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Everyday Environmentalism

Creating an Urban Political Ecology

Alex Loftus

Publication Year: 2012

Everyday Environmentalism develops a conversation between marxist theories of everyday life and recent work in urban political ecology, arguing for a philosophy of praxis in relation to the politics of urban environments. Grounding its theoretical debate in empirical studies of struggles to obtain water in the informal settlements of Durban, South Africa, as well as in the creative acts of insurgent art activists in London, Alex Loftus builds on the work of key marxist thinkers to redefine “environmental politics.”

A marxist philosophy of praxis—that world-changing ideas emerge from the acts of everyday people—undergirds the book. Our daily reality, writes Loftus, is woven out of the entanglements of social and natural relations, and as such a kind of environmental politics is automatically incorporated into our lives. Nevertheless, one effect of the public recognition of global environmental change, asserts Loftus, has been a resurgence of dualistic understandings of the world: for example, that nature is inflicting revenge on arrogant human societies.

This ambitious work reformulates—with the assistance of such philosophers as Lukács, Gramsci, Lefebvre, and others—a politics of the environment in which everyday subjectivity is at the heart of a revolutionary politics.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press


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pp. 1-5


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pp. v-vi

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p. vii-vii

Many of the ideas for this book began germinating at Queen’s University in Canada among the revolutionary dreams of my friends Spencer Tracy, Tony Weis, and Matt Silburn. At around the same time, David McDonald inspired an interest in South Africa and water. Research in Buenos Aires was made possible and enlivened by Itziar Gómez Carrasco. Moving to Oxford, the ...

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Introduction: Emerging Moments in an Urban Political Ecology

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pp. ix-xxvi

This book is about remaking our world. If this is an overambitious task that smacks of the worst combinations of utopianism and hubris, this is not intended. Indeed the desire for the world to be radically different is, I would argue, a commonplace one: nearly always more a stifled anger than a revolutionary cry, the challenge, surely, is to understand the movement of ...

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1. The Urbanization of Nature: Neil Smith and Posthumanist Controversies

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pp. 1-19

One of the central premises of this book is that any framework that seeks to separate nature and society into discrete realms is utterly disabling for a radical and liberatory politics. For an environmental politics, such a view fails practically in that it cannot capture the myriad ways in which the nature we experience on a daily basis is actively constituted through ...

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2. Sensuous Socio-Natures: The Concept of Nature in Marx

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pp. 21-44

Until recently, women, and very occasionally men, would make a daily trek to a locked standpipe in the collection of shacks known as Palestine, an area situated within Amaoti, itself a part of Inanda, one of Durban’s largest areas of informal housing. The standpipe was operated by a bailiff, who charged local residents some of the highest water rates anywhere in the ...

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3. Cyborg Consciousness: Questioning the Dialectics of Nature in Lukács

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pp. 45-74

Returning to the situation in Amaoti referred to in chapter 2, there seems to be something about the sensuous laboring acts of women that generates conditions of possibility for the radical response to the cessation of water supplies that was witnessed. This should not be romanticized. Rather, a profoundly gendered division of labor ensures a distribution of tasks that is ...

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4. When Theory Becomes a Material Force: Gramsci’s Conjunctural Natures

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pp. 75-108

To consider the immanent critique discussed in chapter 3 as abstract from the historically and geographically situated practices that permit it—as some vain metaphysical fancy—would be to render it utterly powerless. Instead, we need a clearer understanding of the mutually constitutive ways in which theory and practice shape each other in definite historical and ...

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5. Cultural Praxis as the Production of Nature: Lefebvrean Natures

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pp. 109-129

On a cold February day in north London, City Mine(d) has set up camp in a dull and dreary cul-de-sac, sandwiched between a crown-green bowling club and a school playing field. The group’s newly painted caravan, on a visit from Barcelona and recently nicknamed Gua-Gua (apparently Catalan dogs bark “Gua-Gua” and not “Woof-Woof ”), is a marked contrast to the ...

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Conclusion: The Nature of Everyday Life

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pp. 131-136

In the course of writing this book, the world known to many will have been dramatically reconfigured. Trumping my own hopes for a changed world, capital has achieved its own perverse transformation. Aided by willing political handmaidens, and in depressingly familiar ways, the outcome of the latest economic crisis has been a world manufactured even closer ...

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pp. 137-159

...1. Donna Haraway, When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota2. Lucien Goldmann, “Reflections on History and Class Consciousness,” in Aspectsof History and Class Consciousness, ed. István Mészáros (London: Routledge & KeganPaul, 1971), remarks that the rebirth of dialectical thought, as with Marx’s owntransformation of Hegel, corresponds with certain social realities: the turn to Hegel by...


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pp. 161-165

E-ISBN-13: 9780816680115
E-ISBN-10: 0816680116
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816665723

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2012