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Chapter 3 - Rights

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 August 2021

Jeffrey Cohen
Affiliation:
Arizona State University
Stephanie Foote
Affiliation:
West Virginia University
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Summary

Rights discourse is marked by ambivalence – the enunciation of rights alongside the attendant exclusions and violations of said rights. In the eighteenth century, for instance, the language of rights was used to justify the French and American revolutions even as women and the enslaved were excluded from the category of rights bearers. The human-based conception of rights also excluded the environment. This chapter proposes that extension of rights to both humans and nonhumans is at the core of the environmental humanities (EH). EH discourse of rights attends to the marginalization of communities disproportionately affected by the distribution of ecological risks and nonhuman ecologies threatened by anthropogenic activities such as resource extraction and energy use. Enunciations of rights in EH demonstrate a commitment to not only a select group of humans but to all humans as well as to the rights of nonhumans. However, EH discourse of rights is not without tensions, including the competing claims to rights among humans and between the interests of human and other-than-human worlds. The chapter concludes with an exploration of these tensions in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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References

Further Reading

Alaimo, S. Bodily Natures: Science, Environment, and the Material Self. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2010.Google Scholar
DeLoughrey, E., Didur, J., and Carrigan, A. (eds.). Global Ecologies and the Environmental Humanities: Postcolonial Approaches. New York: Routledge, 2015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Heise, U.K. Sense of Place and Sense of Planet: The Environmental Imagination of the Global. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moolla, F. (ed.). Natures of Africa: Ecocriticism and Animal Studies in Contemporary Cultural Forms. Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2018.Google Scholar
Mwangi, E. The Postcolonial Animal: African Literature and Posthuman Ethics. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2019.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Westra, L. Environmental Justice and the Rights of Ecological Refugees. London: Routledge, 2013.Google Scholar
Wright, L. Wilderness into Civilized Shapes: Reading the Postcolonial Environment. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2010.Google Scholar

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  • Rights
  • Edited by Jeffrey Cohen, Arizona State University, Stephanie Foote, West Virginia University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Environmental Humanities
  • Online publication: 12 August 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009039369.004
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  • Rights
  • Edited by Jeffrey Cohen, Arizona State University, Stephanie Foote, West Virginia University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Environmental Humanities
  • Online publication: 12 August 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009039369.004
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Rights
  • Edited by Jeffrey Cohen, Arizona State University, Stephanie Foote, West Virginia University
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Environmental Humanities
  • Online publication: 12 August 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009039369.004
Available formats
×