Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-546b4f848f-w58md Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-05-30T05:26:30.126Z Has data issue: false Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": true } hasContentIssue false

29 - Achieving Environmental Justice: Lessons from the Global South

from Part VII - Social Movements

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 November 2020

Katharine Legun
Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands
Julie C. Keller
University of Rhode Island
Michael Carolan
Colorado State University
Michael M. Bell
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Get access


Garnering international support has been a strategy for many Environmental Justice (EJ) movements in the Global South. Due to the economic dependency of Southern governments on multilateral funding institutions and international trade, many Southern EJ movements utilized the “boomerang” effect (Keck & Sikkink, 1998). The process entails support by international allies in pressuring Northern governments, which in turn influence international norms and institutions, forcing the Southern domestic governments to comply. I analyze several classic Southern EJ movements which used the “boomerang” effect to better understand the operationalization. These include the Rubber Tappers’ movement in Brazil, the Narmada anti-dam movement in India, the Zapatista uprising in Mexico, and the Ogoni movement in Nigeria. The results show that not all Southern EJ movements could achieve the intended “boomerang” effect, even when they received widespread international support. Thus, internationalization is insufficient on its own, and is usually only one of the many protest strategies deployed by Southern movements. Understanding these processes provide valuable lessons on global EJ movement strategy. The Northern movements could learn from their Southern counterparts, including on how to perform better supporting roles.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Adebanwi, W. (2004). The Press and the Politics of Marginal Voices: Narratives of the Experiences of the Ogoni of Nigeria. Media, Culture & Society, 26(6), 763783.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, ACHPR (2002, May 27). Communication 155/96: Social and Economic Rights Action Center (SERAC) and Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) / Nigeria. 30th Ordinary Session, 13 – 27 October 2001. Banjul, Gambia. Retrieved from
Agbonifo, J. (2009). Oil, Insecurity, and Subversive Patriots in the Niger Delta: the Ogoni as Agent of Revolutionary Change. Journal of Third World Studies, 26(2), 71106. Retrieved from
Barker, C., Johnson, A., & Lavalette, M. (2001). Leadership Matters: An Introduction. In Barker, C, Johnson, A, Lavalette, M (eds.) Leadership in Social Movements (pp. 123). Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Bob, C. (2002). Political Process Theory and Transnational Movements: Dialectics of Protest among Nigeria’s Ogoni Minority. Social Problems, 49(3), 395415.
Boele, R. (1995). Report of the UNPO mission to Investigate the Situation of the Ogoni of Nigeria. The Hague: UNPO. Retrieved from
Bullard, R. D. (1999). Dismantling Environmental Justice in the USA. Local Environment 4 (1), 520.
Castells, M. (1997). The Power of Identity, Vol. II. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publisher
Cayford, S. (1996). The Ogoni Uprising: Oil, Human Rights, and a Democratic Alternative in Nigeria. Africa Today, 43(2), 183198. Retrieved from
Cleaver, H. (1998). The Zapatistas and the Electronic Fabric of Struggle. In Holloway, J & Pelaez, E (eds.) Zapatista! Reinventing Revolution in Mexico (pp. 81103). London: Pluto Press.
Collier, G., & Quaratiello, E. (1999). Basta! Land & The Zapatista Rebellion in Chiapas. Oakland, CA: Food First Books.
Cotgrove, S. (1982). Catastrophe or Cornucopia: The Environment, Politics, and the Future. Chichester: Wiley
Cotgrove, S. & Duff, A. (1980). Environmentalism, Middle-Class Activism and Politics. Sociological Review, 28:333351.
Cotgrove, S. & Duff, A. (1981). Environmentalism, Values, and Social Change. British Journal of Sociology 32 (1), 92110.
Cramb, R. A., Colfer, C. J. P., Dressler, W. et al. (2009). Swidden Transformations and Rural Livelihoods in Southeast Asia. Human Ecology, 37(3): 323346.–9241-6
Diani, M, & McAdam, D. (2003). Social Movements and Networks: Relational Approaches to Collective Action. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Downing, J. (2001). Radical Media: Rebellious Communication and Social Movements. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications
Dwivedi, R. (1997). People’s Movements in Environmental Politics: A Critical Analysis of the Narmada Bachao Andolan in India. The Hague: Institute of Social Studies.
Dwivedi, R. (1998). Resisting Dams and “Development”: Contemporary Significance of the Campaign against the Narmada Projects in India. The European Journal of Development Research 10 (2), 135183.
Ekins, P. (1992). A New World Order: Grassroots Movements for Global Change. London, New York: Routledge
Evers, T. (1985). Identity: The Hidden Side of Movement in Latin America. In Slater, D (ed.) New Social Movements and the State in Latin America (pp. 4371). Amsterdam: CEDLA Online Archive.
Express Web Desk (2017, September 17). PM Modi inaugurates Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam: Top quotes. The Indian Express. Retrieved from
Fox, J., Fujita, Y., Ngidang, D. et al. (2009). Policies, Political-Economy, and Swidden in Southeast Asia. Human Ecology, 37(3), 305322.–9240-7
Golden, T. (2001, April 8). Revolution Rocks. Thoughts of Mexico’s first postmodern guerrilla commander. The New York Times. Retrieved from
Goldstone, J.A. (2004). More Social Movements or Fewer? Beyond Political Opportunity Structures to Relational Fields. Theory and Society 33(3–4): 333365.
Guha, R. (1989). The Unquiet Woods: Ecological Change and Peasant Resistance in the Himalaya. Delhi: Oxford University Press.
Harvey, N. (1998). The Chiapas Rebellion: The struggle for land and democracy. Durham: Duke University Press.
Haynes, J. (1999). Power, Politics and Environmental Movements in the Third World. Environmental Politics, 8(1), 222242.
Human Rights Watch. (1995). Nigeria: The Ogoni crisis: A case-study of military repression in southeastern Nigeria. Human Rights Watch/Africa Report (July) 7: 5. Retrieved from
Inclán, M. (2012). Zapatista and Counter-Zapatista Protests: A Test of Movement–Countermovement Dynamics. Journal of Peace Research 49 (3), 459472.
Instituto Socioambiental. Extractive Reserve. Retrieved 19 December 2017 from
Karan, P. P. (1994). Environmental movements in India. Geographical Review 84(1), 3241.
Keck, M. E (1995). Social Equity and Environmental Politics in Brazil: Lessons from the Rubber Tappers of Acre. Comparative Politics, 27(4), 409424. Retrieved from
Keck, M. E., & Sikkink, K.(1998). Activists beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Ithaca: Cornell
Keck, M. E., & Sikkink, K. (1999). Transnational Advocacy Networks in International and Regional Politics. International Social Science Journal, 51(159), 89101.–2451.00179
Laclau, E. (1985). New Social Movements and the Plurality of the Social. In Slater, D (ed.) New Social Movements and the State in Latin America (pp. 2742). Amsterdam: CEDLA Online Archive. Retrieved from–42(Laclau).pdf
Li, T. M. (1999). Marginality, Power and Production: Analyzing Upland Transformations. In Li, T. M. (ed.) Transforming the Indonesian Uplands: Marginality, Power and Production (pp. 159). Amsterdam: Harwood Academic.
Martinez-Alier, J., Temper, L., Del Bene, D., & Scheidel, A. (2016). Is There a Global Environmental Justice Movement? Journal of Peasant Studies, 43 (3), 731755.
Martinez-Torres, M. E. (2001). Civil Society, the Internet, and the Zapatistas. Peace Review 13, 347355.
McGreal, S. (2006). The Zapatista Rebellion as Postmodern Revolution. Journal of Critical Postmodern Organizational Science, 5(1), 5464. Retrieved from
Mertig, A.G., & Dunlap, R.E. (2001). Environmentalism, New Social Movements, and the New Class: A Cross-National Investigation. Rural Sociology 66, 113136.–0831.2001.tb00057.x
MOSOP. (1990). Ogoni Bill of Rights. Port Harcourt: Saros. Retrieved from
Muñoz, J. A. (2008). Protest and Human Rights Networks: The Case of the Zapatista Movement. Sociology Compass, 2(3), 10451058.–9020.2008.00115.x
Narula, S. (2008). The Story of Narmada Bachao Andolan: Human Rights in the Global Economy and the Struggle Against the World Bank. New York University Public Law and Legal Theory Working Papers. Paper 106. Retrieved from
Nash, J. (2001). Mayan Visions: The Quest for Autonomy in an Age of Globalization. New York: Routledge.
Nepstad, S., & Bob, C. (2006). When do Leaders Matter? Hypotheses on Leadership Dynamics in Social Movements. Mobilization, 11(1), 122. Retrieved from
Olesen, T. (2004). The Transnational Zapatista Solidarity Network: An Infrastructure Analysis. Global Networks 4, 89107.–0374.2004.00082.x
Osaghae, E. E. (1995). The Ogoni Uprising: Oil Politics, Minority Agitation and the Future of the Nigerian State. African Affairs, 94(376), 325344. Retrieved from
Osha, S. (2006). Birth of the Ogoni Protest Movement. Journal of Asian and African Studies, 41(1–2), 1338.
Pellow, D. N., & Brulle, R. J. (2005). Power, Justice, and the Environment: A Critical Appraisal of the Environmental Justice Movement. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.
Piven, F., and Cloward, R. (1977). Poor People’s Movement’s: How They Succeed, Why They Fail. New York: Pantheon Books
Roberts, J.T. (2007). Globalizing Environmental Justice: Trend and Imperative. In Sandler, R and Pezzullo, P (eds.) Environmental Justice and Environmentalism: The Social Justice Challenge to the Environmental Movement (pp. 285308). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Rodrigues, G., & Rabben, L. (2007). Walking the Forest with Chico Mendes: Struggle for Justice in the Amazon. Austin: University of Texas Press. Retrieved December 20, 2017, from Project MUSE database,
Ronfeldt, D. (1998). The Zapatista ‘Social Netwar’ in Mexico. Santa Monica, CA: Rand.
Rothman, F. D. (1993). Political process and peasant opposition to large hydroelectric dams: The case of the Rio Uruguai Movement in southern Brazil, 1979 to 1992 (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Rus, J., Hernández Castillo, A., & Mattiace, S. L. (2001). The Indigenous People of Chiapas and the State in the Time of Zapatismo: Remaking Culture, Renegotiating Power. Latin American Perspectives, 28 (2), 719. Retrieved from
Russell, A. (2005). Myth and the Zapatista movement: Exploring a Network Identity. New Media and Society, 7 (4), 559577.
Saro-Wiwa, K. (1995). A Month and a Day: A Detention Diary. Ibadan: Spectrum Books.
Scherer García, J. (2001). “La entrevista insólita,” interview with Subcomandante Marcos, March 10, Proceso. Retrieved from
Scheumann, W. (2008). How Global Norms for Large Dams Reach Decision-Makers. In Scheumann, W, Neubert, S, Kipping, M (eds.) Water Politics and Development Cooperation (pp. 5580). Berlin: Springer. Retrieved from–3-540–76707-7_3#citeas
Schulz, M. (1998). Collective Action across Borders: Opportunity Structures, Network Capacities and Communicative Praxis in the Age of Advanced Globalization. Sociological Perspectives, 41: 587611.
Schwartzman, S. (1991). Deforestation and Popular Resistance in Acre: From Local Social Movement to Global Network. The Centennial Review, 35(2), 397422. Retrieved from
Sethi, H. (1993). Survival and Democracy: Ecological Struggles in India. In Wignaraja, P (ed.) New Social Movements in the South: Empowering the People (pp. 122148). New Delhi: Vistaar.
Shirley, S. (2001, September). “Zapatistas Organizing in Cyberspace: Winning Hearts and Minds?” Paper presented at the Conference of the Latin American Studies Association, Washington, DC. Retrieved from
Shiva, V., & Bandyopadhyay, J. (1986). The Evolution, Structure, and Impact of the Chipko Movement. Mountain Research and Development Mountain Research and Development, 610446(2), 133142. Retrieved from
Simons, M. (1988, December 24). Brazilian Who Fought to Protect Amazon Is Killed. The New York Times. Retrieved from
Slaughter, A. (2004). A New World Order. Princeton: Princeton University Press
Sneddon, C., & Fox, C. (2008). Struggles Over Dams as Struggles for Justice: The World Commission on Dams (WCD) and Anti-Dam Campaigns in Thailand and Mozambique. Society & Natural Resources, 21(7), 625640.
Snow, D., Rochford, E., Worden, S., & Benford, R. (1986). Frame Alignment Processes, Micromobilization, and Movement Participation. American Sociological Review, 51(4), 464481. Retrieved from
Sturgeon, J. C. (2005). Border Landscapes: The Politics of Akha Land Use in China and Thailand. Seattle: University of Washington Press
Tarrow, S. (2005).The New Transnational Activism (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Taylor, D. (2000). The Rise of the Environmental Justice Paradigm. American Behavioural Scientist, 43 (4), 508580.
Tewari, D. (1995). The Chipko: The Dialectics of Economics and Environment. Dialectical Anthropology, 20(2), 133168. Retrieved from
Udall, L. (1989). Statement on behalf of EDF et al. concerning the environmental and social impacts of the World Bank financed Sardar Sarovar dam in India before the Sub-Committee on Natural Resources, Agricultural Research and Environment, 24 October, EDF. Washington DC.
Veltmeyer, H., & James, P. (2002). The Social Dynamics of Brazil’s Rural Landless Workers’ Movement: Ten Hypotheses on Successful Leadership. Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, 39(1), 7997.
Williams, G., & Mawdsley, E. (2006). Postcolonial Environmental Justice: Government and Governance in India. Geoforum, 37(5), 660670.
Wong, P. (2018). Recognizing Plurality, Heterogeneity and Agency – A Contextualized Approach Towards Environmental Justice. Unpublished Manuscript.

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats

Save book to Dropbox

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 Dropbox.

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.

Available formats