Place-thinking: The hidden geography of environmental law

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Environmental law and its students stand accused of ignoring space. The degree of reflexivity given to law by jurisdiction, history, political favour and case-by-case flexibility is chimeric rather than substantive, serving only to further ensure law’s hegemonic attempts to conceal geography and to silence non-human voices. This chapter will demonstrate how analyses of vernacular knowledge and plant perspectives in particular unsettle the universalist, anthropocentric and essentialist gaze of environmental law, while at the same time offering explanatory power hitherto concealed. An alternative methodological pathway for the interrogation of environmental law, revealing its hidden tenets and consequences, as well as a potential opportunity for reform, is presented. To transform its vision and impact environmental law must interrogate its universalist, essentialist, anthropocentric and also utilitarian assumptions. Such a transformation involves a finer-grained attendance to geographical conditions, including not only spatial but also temporal diversity, change and emergence, as well as the incorporation of non-human perspectives and a de-centring of the human. Such lessons of contextualization and deep democratization have relevance for law and policy analysis more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Methods in Environmental Law
Subtitle of host publicationA Handbook
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781784712570
ISBN (Print)9781784712563
Publication statusPublished - 24 Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes

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