Panel 4: Popular Politics of the Environment: Societal Actors and Activists in International Organisations during the Second Half of the Twentieth Century.
The history of the environment in international politics has, until recently, predominantly been written from a top-down perspective of states and governments, international organisations, and expert bodies. Instead, this panel aims to explore a bottom-up approach by exploring the multifaceted roles that societal actors and activists have played in the emergence and shaping of the environment as a transnational political concern during the second half of the twentieth century. In this panel, we consider international organisations as a locus through which to analyse the interplay between grassroots mobilisation and political claims-making. In doing so, the panel seeks to contribute to a growing body of literature which brings together environmental history and the role of non-state actors in international politics.
The goal of this panel is to explore and debate how societal actors and activists have sought to address the environment as a political issue, and which ideas and practices they have used in doing so. Subsequently, the panel aims to discuss how international organisations have interacted with these forms of popular politics. In order to address these issues, this panel considers the various representative claims used by societal actors in speaking for the environment, as well as discussing the dynamic nature of interest representation over time. This ties in with changing notions of political participation and democratic legitimacy within frameworks of international organisations. In this sense, the environment can be regarded as a lens through which to analyse these questions of popular politics, political representation, and democratic legitimacy – key issues in political history today. The overarching question this panel then poses is: to what extent have societal actors and activists been able to alter norms and practices of political representation in environmental politics?
To explore these and related questions, the panel is introduced by a conceptual overview of the interplay of social actors and environmental politics, as well as its concomitant challenges. Building on specific case studies, three short presentations will then shed light on questions raised by the inclusion of societal actors in trans- and international political arenas over time. Lastly, a moderated discussion will tie these questions together, and crucially, examine the relevance of environmental politics as a focal point to analyse key issues for political historians today.
Chair: Koen van Zon
Introductory presentation: Greening Democracy? Citizens, social movements and the politics of the environment
Alessandra Schimmel (PhD Candidate, Utrecht University) analyses how consumer organisations have used the theme of the environment as a means in their criticism of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) during the 1970s and 1980s. The European consumer organisations which operated within the context of the European Community were tied to their representative role in European institutions, whereas the international federation of consumer organisations was able to formulate much more radical criticism on the negative environmental impact of CAP.
Paul Reef (PhD Candidate, Radboud University) discusses how environmental activists and organisations have contested the negative environmental consequences of the Olympic Games and their interaction with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) since the 1990s. It was in the IOC’s interest to cooperate with environmental organisations to contain opposition and gain legitimacy. For environmentalists, the choice between cooperation and opposition posed a dilemma: was it worth compromising on ideals and the environment itself to gain media coverage and limited long-term influence within global sport governance?
Maartje Janse (Leiden University)
Claudia Hacke (Utrecht University
Political history today: exploring new themesRegistration website for Political history today: exploring new themes
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Researchschool Political Historybureau@onderzoekschoolpolitiekegeschiedenis.nlhttps://www.aanmelder.nl/politicalhistorytoday2022
Political history today: exploring new themesPolitical history today: exploring new themes0.00EUROnlineOnly2019-01-01T00:00:00Z
Conference venue: KNAW TrippenhuisConference venue: KNAW TrippenhuisKloveniersburgwal 29 1011JV Amsterdam Netherlands