Knowledge and Valuation in Environmental Justice Struggles
Scandrett, E. (2008) Knowledge and Valuation in Environmental Justice Struggles, Proceedings of Environmental Justice and Global Citizenship, , , ,
The paper draws on the experience of adult education with community activists who are campaigning against environmental injustice. In common with environmental justice struggles throughout the world, all the communities experience negative economic externalities of capitalist development which is incommensurate with their own environmental valuation. The course uses methodologies derived from Paulo Freire and popular education to seek to maximise the relevance of the curriculum to the political struggles in which the communities are engaged. Such methodologies generate knowledge of environmental justice derived from dialogue between the experiences of communities of struggle, the strategic campaigning of an environmental organisation, and the traditions of academic rigour of a university. This produces a discourse which contrasts with the policy discourse based on positivist research. This paper draws on my experiences as coordinator of the course, analysed through liberation theology, which depends on the theologian's participation in political struggle as a precursor to theological reflection. Much ecological theology in the Christian tradition focuses on Creation narratives originating from Biblical texts whose ideological function seems to have been the justification of ruling class practices. Incommensurable valuation is an economic question which enables an alternative ecological theology to be developed from Prophetic narratives.