SMNR: Cultures of Environmental Justice: Rights, Movements, Communities

Course Information

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Meeting Times

Day Time Location
MON 4:00 - 6:00 pm JON 6.207

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


This is an Anthropology course, cross-listed with the Law School.

Environmental justice sits at the intersection of some of the most pressing questions of our time. In the wake of COVID-19, against the rise of repressive governments around the globe, in the midst of the climate crisis, and in recognition of the ongoing violence of colonialism, legal and political struggles for environmental justice set an urgent agenda for reckoning with the past, present, and future of environmental change. But what is environmental justice? What kinds of cultures of practice and action guide those who strive to achieve it? How does it work across scale? Does it chart a coherent agenda or a multitude of incommensurate claims? And how might it shape solidarities and responses across communities on the bleeding edge of environmental and climate devastation?

This seminar engages these and related questions to rethink possible responses to environmental change. The seminar defines environmental justice capaciously—as a set of struggles to identify, address, and repair the histories and presents environmental harm. And it explores the challenges of environmental justice across domains of engagement. Putting scholarship from law into dialogue with anthropology and environmental humanities, we will consider both the possibilities and limits of environmental justice as a framework for acting against and repairing diverse forms of environmental harm at local, national, and global scales. We will pay particular attention to three themes that have come to structure conversations around environment justice: repair and reparations; detectability, evidence, and the representation of harm; and action and response.

The seminar will be organized around the visits of leading scholars who will present their research to the university community in a public forum. Students will spend roughly two weeks considering work by each speaker as well as related scholarly materials. Students are expected to participate actively in class discussions, write short critical responses to assigned reading by visiting scholars, and write a longer essay on a topic related to the themes that arise during the semester. Readings for the seminar will come from a variety of disciplines. The seminar is open not only to anthropology and law students but to non-law graduate and professional students with relevant background.

Textbooks ( * denotes required )

No materials required


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