In this “Just Environments” essay, Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa fellow Ebunoluwa Popoola examines the transfer of environmental lawsuits from Nigerian courts to European ones as a means of circumventing legal obstacles at the national level. Communities in the Niger Delta face multiple barriers when suing multinational oil companies in Nigerian courts, in part because of high costs, delays, and a restrictive interpretation of legal standing. Moving these cases to foreign jurisdictions, where the multinational companies are based, has been one avenue through which environmental justice has been achieved.
Contrary to the negative stereotypes associated with NIMBYism, Carol Hager’s contribution to the “Just Environments” series demonstrates how NIMBY protests can be beneficial components of participatory politics that result in social, political, and technological innovation. Contrasting case studies from Germany and the United States, Hager examines how, with varying degrees of success, local residents are able to resist unwanted development and environmental threats while imagining more progressive alternatives. In this light, NIMBY protests can be seen as initiating processes of community learning and innovation. Hager was the recipient of an SSRC Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies Fellowship.
Madeleine Elfenbein, 2013 International Dissertation Research Fellowship recipient, contributes to a new forum on The Immanent Frame. Drawing from provocations to think differently about the idea of the Muslim world and the Muslim country, this forum seeks to explicate the various ways in which these terms have been taken up in scholarship and political discourse more broadly. Elfenbein is a PhD candidate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. For 2017-2018, she is an Early Career Fellow at the Lichtenberg-Kolleg, the Göttingen Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
Nikhil Anand’s contribution to the “Just Environments” series examines the making of urban inequality, focusing on water infrastructure as a key site for banal yet fundamentally political decision-making that neglects or harms poor citizens. In both Flint and Mumbai, environmental injustice is generated through bureaucratic routines that rarely take into account the humans they affect. Challenging these injustices, Anand argues, requires engaging in the “boring” technopolitics of infrastructure.
Elizabeth Sharrow, 2010 Dissertation Proposal Development Fellow, shares her story of using federal data in her research. The value of these collections is not just for researchers. Archival data provide a fundamental starting point for public conversation on the details of political conflict and compromise. They guard against revisionist interpretations of our political past. They implicate all Americans in the shared project of contesting and resisting a world devoid of political history.