Environmental conflicts and injustices in fragile areas
This call for papers on ‘Environmental conflicts in fragile areas’ builds on two basic points: oppositional interactions and fragility of places. The aim is of connecting them, that is accounting for the possible specificity of conflicts over the use of natural resources located in fragile areas. Starting point is the idea that some socially fragile areas – that is areas characterized by sparsity of population, high proportion of elderly people, weak job opportunities and service facilities, distance from urban centres or transport infrastructures – include major natural resources, such as water, forests, wind, land and also fossil fuels, that are increasingly valuable yet unevenly distributed. In other words some places suffer from environmental injustice, either because their valuable ‘goods’ are unduly taken away or because they are loaded with environmental ‘bads’ produced elsewhere. Huge human pressure on the environment leads to this situation, which in its turn produces four types of social-spatial interaction: 1) no conflict, because the affected population is unaware of unfair resource appropriation; 2) weak conflict, as framed by centre-periphery political bargaining, court cases, local media; 3) strong conflict, with unconventional protests, popular mobilizations, attempts to reformulate the issues at stake; 4) specious conflict, apparently focused on environmental resources yet actually pointing to other social and political questions.
In Italy, as in Western Europe, there are plenty of such conflicts. Most resounding and studied are those which concern major transport infrastructures or the siting of energy plants and connected facilities. Well-known Italian examples are the heated contestations of the High Speed Train line in Susa Valley (Piedmont) and of the proposed nuclear waste repository in Scanzano Jonico (Basilicata). Yet beside resounding struggles with huge mobilizations there are conflicts of lesser import both for the implied stakes and for the number of people involved. These conflicts run the risk of being affected by a double injustice: one stemming from an objective disparity in the distribution of environmental ‘goods’ and ‘bads’, the other deriving from a weak participation, that is a passive submission to decisions made elsewhere.
Actually, there is a totally opposite reading, for which the contentiousness of local populations ends up blocking any public work. Not by chance there is no shortage of agencies and organizations aimed at preventing or handling oppositions to initiatives of alleged public utility. All this highlights the basic themes of the call: environmental imbalances intertwine with diverging issue-framings, traditional compensations of environmental damage, innovative forms of participation and involvement of local people.
The journal thus invites contributions focused on ‘minor’ cases of environmental conflict, that is cases concerning small local communities or where, due to the dispersed character of damage, the conflict goes almost unnoticed or is deployed elsewhere, or else it is contained within institutionalized procedures. The question, in other words, is whether there is any specificity in conflicts located in areas characterized by a sparse population, be they definable as rural, fragile, marginal, peripheral. How does this territorial and social fragility impinge on conflict? Why do some struggles located in fragile areas come to the national or international forefront, while others do not? How do the peculiarities of the resources at stake, social stratification, the political opportunity structure and other variables affect the evolution of conflicts?
Articles, written in English or Italian, will be submitted to a peer review process according to the following schedule:
- Submission of articles: 30 September 2012
- Provision of peer review feedback: 30 November 2012
- Submission of revised drafts: 31 December 2012
Articles should be no longer than 7000 words, including notes and references.
Please refer to the editorial guidelines available at http://www.francoangeli.it/riviste/NR/Paco-norme.pdf
Please address any queries to the guest editors at: ostig @ sp.units.it or pellizzonil @ sp.units.it