Decolonising Environmental Justice

Lina Alvarez Villarreal, Brendan Coolsaet

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The concept of environmental justice emerges in the late 1970s and 1980s in the United States, with the struggles of afro-american communities against unequal spatial distributions of toxic pollution. Following David Scholsberg’s (2007) theoretical backbone to the concept—which draws on Rawlsian justice, critical theory and the capabilities approach, scholars have increasingly used it to analyze environmental injustices in the Global South. Yet, despite the historic relation with racial issues, and despite the more recent geographic focus on the Global South, there’s been surprisingly little engagement with decolonial thought. This paper attends to this gap by applying a “decolonial reduction” (Maldonado-Torres, 2001) to the now widely used three-dimensional environmental justice framework (distribution, recognition and representation). By drawing on the work of Frantz Fanon and others, it aims to reflect on the following topics: Can environmental justice be used to address the challenges raised by the project of modernity and coloniality? In its current state, by failing to include a decolonial analysis, doesn’t environmental justice risk undermining or even deepening some of the injustices it claims to address? Which new dimensions/transformations can decolonial thought bring to the debate to criticize/improve environmental justice?
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016
EventEuropean Philosophies and Decolonization of Thought - Université de Toulouse Jean Jaurès, Toulouse, France
Duration: 24 Aug 201627 Aug 2016


ConferenceEuropean Philosophies and Decolonization of Thought

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