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Harvard Book Store welcomes ASHLEY DAWSON—author of People’s Power: Reclaiming the Energy Commons—for a discussion of his new book Environmentalism from Below: How Global People’s Movements Are Leading the Fight for Our Planet. He will be joined in conversation by SANJAY KRISHNAN—author of V. S. Naipaul’s Journeys: From Periphery to Center.
About Environmentalism from Below
Environmentalism from Below takes readers inside the popular struggles for environmental liberation in the Global South. These communities—among the most vulnerable to but also least responsible for the climate crisis—have long been at the forefront of the fight to protect imperiled worlds. Today, as the world’s forests burn and our oceans acidify, grassroots movements are tenaciously defending the environmental commons and forging just and sustainable ways of living on Earth.
Scholar and activist Ashley Dawson constructs a gripping narrative of these movements of climate insurgents, from international solidarity organizations like La Via Campesina and Shack Dwellers International to local struggles in South Africa, Colombia, India, Nigeria, and beyond. Taking up the four critical challenges we face in a warming world—food, urban sustainability, energy transition, and conservation—Dawson shows how the unruly power of environmentalism from below is charting an alternative path forward, from challenging industrial agriculture through fights for food sovereignty and agroecology to resisting extractivism using mass nonviolent protest and sabotage.
An urgent, essential intervention, Environmentalism from Below offers a hopeful alternative to the gridlock of UN-based climate negotiations and the narrow nationalism of some Green New Deal efforts. As Dawson reminds us, the fight against ecocide is already being waged worldwide. Building on longstanding traditions of anticolonial struggle, environmentalism from below is a model for a people’s movement for climate justice—one that demands solidarity.
Praise for Environmentalism from Below
“Ashley Dawson takes us on a wondrous tour of communities working for life after capitalism. These grassroots ecologies are so potent, and their promise so profound, they’ve elicited lethal violence from the state and private sector. For that reason Environmentalism from Below is also an atlas of the world’s most important global struggles.” —Raj Patel, Research Professor, University of Texas at Austin
“True to its aim, this book celebrates ideas and actions that come from below. It is a book that deserves to be celebrated as it presents clear evidence of active organizing, and resistance by climate victims, and the dispossessed against manifestations of neocolonial and oppressive policies and actions. Environmentalism from Below is a book that fossil fuel tycoons and other purveyors of fictional environmental optimism will hate.” —Nnimmo Bassey, author of To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa
“Though debates rage on the climate left about what language or strategy ought to be taken in order to confront the climate crisis, those involved in such conversations frequently seem to have their minds in the clouds and no grounded connection to existing class struggles. Dawson stands these critics on their head by foregrounding the wildly diverse, actually-existing, and ineluctably global people’s movements for climate justice. In these scattered movements of urban squatters, migrants, industrial workers, peasant farmers, feminists, and Indigenous nations, one finds more comprehensive strategies for confronting imperialism and capitalism; which are the roots of environmental crises. Environmentalism From Below is a readable, practical and inspiring guide to building ecological counterpower.” —Kai Bosworth, author of Pipeline Populism: Grassroots Environmentalism in the 21st Century
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