Between activism and science: grassroots concepts for sustainability coined by Environmental Justice Organizations

Journal of Political Ecology. 2014;21(1):19-60 DOI 10.2458/v21i1.21124


Journal Homepage

Journal Title: Journal of Political Ecology

ISSN: 1073-0451 (Online)

Publisher: University of Arizona Libraries

Society/Institution: University of Arizona

LCC Subject Category: Geography. Anthropology. Recreation: Environmental sciences | Political science

Country of publisher: United States

Language of fulltext: Spanish; Castilian, French, English

Full-text formats available: PDF



Joan Martinez-Alier (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain)
Isabelle Anguelovski (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain)
Patrick Bond (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
Daniela Del Bene (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain)
Federico Demaria (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain)
Julien-Francois Gerber (Teri University, India)
Lucie Greyl (Centro di Documentazione sui Conflitti Ambientali, Italy)
Willi Haas (University of Klagenfurt, Austria)
Hali Healy (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain)
Victoria Marín-Burgos (University of Twente, the Netherlands)
Godwin Ojo (Environmental Rights Action, Nigeria)
Marcelo Porto (Fundaçao Olwaldo Cruz, Brazil)
Leida Rijnhout (European Environmental Bureau, Belgium)
Beatriz Rodríguez-Labajos (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain)
Joachim Spangenberg (Sustainable Environment Research Institute, Germany)
Leah Temper (Autonomous University of Barcelona, Spain)
Rikard Warlenius (Lund University, Sweden)
Ivonne Yánez (Acción Ecológica, Ecuador)


Double blind peer review

Editorial Board

Instructions for authors

Time From Submission to Publication: 17 weeks


Abstract | Full Text

In their own battles and strategy meetings since the early 1980s, EJOs (environmental justice organizations) and their networks have introduced several concepts to political ecology that have also been taken up by academics and policy makers. In this paper, we explain the contexts in which such notions have arisen, providing definitions of a wide array of concepts and slogans related to environmental inequities and sustainability, and explore the connections and relations between them. These concepts include: environmental justice, ecological debt, popular epidemiology, environmental racism, climate justice, environmentalism of the poor, water justice, biopiracy, food sovereignty, "green deserts", "peasant agriculture cools downs the Earth", land grabbing, Ogonization and Yasunization, resource caps, corporate accountability, ecocide, and indigenous territorial rights, among others. We examine how activists have coined these notions and built demands around them, and how academic research has in turn further applied them and supplied other related concepts, working in a mutually reinforcing way with EJOs. We argue that these processes and dynamics build an activist-led and co-produced social sustainability science, furthering both academic scholarship and activism on environmental justice. Keywords: Political ecology, environmental justice organizations, environmentalism of the poor, ecological debt, activist knowledge