chapter  5
12 Pages

Recognition and environmental justice

WithBrendan Coolsaet, Pierre-Yves Néron

The meanings and values we assign to nature and the environment are always culturally defined, and people express their differences through a multitude of relations to nature and the world around them. Protecting the environment and designing environmental policy are always influenced by culturally specific ideas about what is worth protecting in the first place. Drawing on the main theories of recognition, this chapter looks at how we accommodate and respect different people, their cultural practices, their identities and their knowledge systems in the context of the environment. Through the works of key intellectual figures such as Axel Honneth, Charles Taylor and Nancy Fraser, we examine how theories of recognition have significantly changed the way we think about social justice, by emphasizing the crucial importance of concepts such as otherness, disrespect and cultural injustice. While highlighting the neglect of issues of recognition in debates about environmental justice, we discuss the fruitfulness of adopting the tools provided by theorists of recognition in our attempts to grasp the multivalent aspects of environmental injustice.