CFP – Ecological Resistance Movements in the 21st Century

ecologcial resistence movementsA Call For Proposals

A wide variety of environmental movements emerged globally after the first Earth Day in 1970. Increasingly, they have been joined by anti-colonial, poor people’s, indigenous, feminist and social justice movements that were seeking to integrate environmental concerns. Over the years, a number of works analyzed the influences and prospects of these movements, including, in 1995, Ecological Resistance Movements: the global emergence of radical and popular environmentalism. In recent years there appears to be an upsurge in direct action and other forms of environmental resistance, including resistance at Gezi Park in Turkey, the Belo Monte Dam in Brazil, to the gates of the White House in Washington DC. We seek to focus scholarly attention on this resurgence and seek proposals analyzing them.

We propose to understand environmental resistance movements as social movements whose proponents position themselves more as opponents than reformers of the social systems in which they are enmeshed and that they seek to reform. Obvious examples are movements whose tactics are sometimes illegal or whose ideologies are revolutionary, seeking to overturn what they see as a fundamentally repressive and ecologically destructive social order. Other examples include protest movements critiquing what they perceive to be profound corruption in existing political arrangements, and contending that only dramatic protest and resistance can precipitate the needed and comprehensive change. Yet other foci include models that reject dominant lifeways and livelihoods in significant ways, and promote radical alternative models, such as is the case with the permaculture, bioregional, and eco-village movements. We encourage contributors to suggest the frames and definitions that fit the contexts and movements they seek to analyze and illuminate.

We will expect our collaborators to address the historical roots, political dimensions and impacts, and the ethical dimensions (including the cognitive, affective, and spiritual/ religious roots of moral values and commitments) of the social phenomena they seek to illuminate.

Two publications are planned: an edited volume to be published by an academic press (to be determined) and a special issue of the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, drawn from the contributions that pay the greatest attention to the religious, spiritual, and affective dimensions of the analyzed movements.

JSRNC-COVERInterested scholars should submit an abstract (maximum 500 words) no later than May 15, 2014 to Joseph Witt ( By early June editors will respond and encourage contributions from those whose proposed articles they consider the most fitting and promising. Papers will be due no later than 31 December 2014. We expect to publish 4-5 articles in the JSRNC and 12-15 in the edited volume, averaging 8,000-10,000 words in length. Further questions we hope to pursue are provided below.

Guidelines for manuscript preparation will be sent to those who are encouraged to submit full papers.


Bron Taylor is Professor of Religion and Environmental Ethics at the University of Florida and a Carson Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich Germany. He previously edited Ecological Resistance Movements (1995), Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature (2005), and authored Dark Green Religion: Nature Spirituality and the Planetary Future (2010), and several other books. He is also the editor of the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture. He has written widely on the affective and spiritual aspects of environmental movements globally, including radical ones. For more information see

Ursula Münster is a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Rachel Carson Center and the
Department of Anthropology, LMU Munich. Her current research focuses on the genealogies and politics of an environmental movement in the Western Ghats of Kerala,
South India. She is also interested in issues of environmental governance, human/elephant relations, gender, indigenous land rights, post-colonialism, and globalization. For more information see: http://

Joseph Witt is Assistant Professor of Religion at Mississippi State University. His work focuses on ecological resistance among rural communities in the southern United States. Since 2008, Dr. Witt has studied the grassroots direct action movement against mountaintop removal coal mining in the Appalachian region of the United States. He is currently the Senior Assistant Editor for the Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature
and Culture, and his book, Faith to Save Mountains: Religion and Resistance to Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining, is under review.

Additional Questions

  • What are the lessons for such movements, and environmentalism in general, from the past fifty years of grassroots environmental activism? What strategies and tactics deployed by these movements have succeeded and failed? More provocatively: Have environmental movements failed? If so, why, and would or could it have been different? If so, how?
  • What continuities and discontinuities, alliances and conflicts, have emerged, if not also become typical? What consequences have resulted, including on the future prospects for such movements?
  • With an increasing transnational mobilization of environmental movements, are there mutual understandings emerging out of a bricolage of critical perspectives, strategies and tactics? What are the possible barriers to common and effective strategies tactics, and alliances?
  • How does the positioning of some nation states as resistant to dominant economic and social development models complicate analysis of ‘ecological resistance’? Possible examples include the new, Mother Earth-revering constitution of Ecuador, similar new laws elsewhere in South America, as well as the ways some European countries position themselves as being committed to a profound sustainability revolution.
  • What is the role of scholarly and intellectual work in resistance movements, e.g., shaping the critical analysis that animates them and in other ways promoting environmental action? Specific analyses of green trends in postmodern and postcolonial schools, literature and film studies, animal science and technology studies, and philosophy are a few possible examples.
  • What new (or increasingly obvious) developments are precipitating resistance?(These developments might include but are not limited to the effects of climate change, the commodification and privatization of nature (such as water and other commons resources), and conservation projects that precipitate or exacerbate conflicts over land.
  • What new forms of protest are being deployed? These might include sabotage and other illegal tactics, as well as strategies involving new and social media (including youtube, twitter, and facebook), internet platforms and blogger networks, messages distributed via mobile phones, etc.
  • How do cultural productions, performances, and spectacles—for example, literatures, motion pictures, and other works of art, as well as pageants, festivals, and other events (such as the international naked bike ride day)— contribute to or detract from these movement’s objectives?
  • What are the social forces arrayed against resistance movements that diminish their power and limit the effectiveness of their adversaries?