Obstructive Direct Action and the History of the Environmental Movement
Since the 1970s, environmental blockades disrupting the exploitation and destruction of forests, rivers, and other biodiverse places have been one of the most attention-grabbing and contentious forms of political action. This book explores when, where, and why environmental blockading and its associated tactics first arose.
The author explores a broad range of questions, including how did tactics and practices first developed and popularised during environmental blockades come to feature regularly in animal rights, peace, refugee, and other campaigns? What are blockaders hoping to achieve? How have such blockades and tactics shaped government policy, the culture of modern politics, and popular understandings of ecology, colonialism, and activism? This book offers the first comprehensive history and analysis of environmental blockading in three key countries: Australia, the United States, and Canada. As the first places to experience sustained protest cycles which fully established, promoted, and developed the environmental blockading repertoire as an ongoing strategic option for movements nationally and internationally, these campaigns were central in creating a new approach to conservation issues. They also played a leading role in making obstructive direct action a regular part of political campaigning, as seen in the form of the Extinction Rebellion (XR), alter-globalisation, climate justice, and other movements.
This book draws on rigorous archival research including sources ranging from personal diaries, campaign minutes, and video footage through to police reports and newspaper articles, as well as interviews with more than 30 protest leaders and campaigners. It will be of great interest to students and scholars in the fields of sociology, political science, history, green criminology, and interdisciplinary environmental studies.
Table of Contents
1. "The forest in question was regarded as territory": The Terania Creek Campaign and the Creation of the Environmental Blockading Template
2. "An attitude, a way of life, a state of heart": Organisational and Tactical Development within Australian Environmental Blockades, 1980–1984
3. "The first volley in the nonviolent wilderness war": Environmental Blockading Spreads to the US, 1983–1986
4. "We shut 'em down": Environmental Blockading in the US Extends and Entrenches, 1987–1990
5. "You’re welcome to visit our park, but leave your saws in the boat": Canadian First Nations and Conservationist Activism, 1983–1984
6. "Someone had to stand up to them": Canadian Expansion, Differentiation, and Entrenchment, 1986–1989
7. "We refuse to bequeath a dying planet to future generations by failing to act now": Developments in Environmental Blockading and ODA since 1990
Iain McIntyre is a researcher, writer, lecturer, and community radio broadcaster based in Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of a number of books on history, social movements, and popular culture. He is a regular contributor to commonslibrary.org, a web repository which collects and distributes the key lessons of progressive movements across Australia and around the globe.
"This important book takes us beyond slogans to the complex dilemmas facing environmental activists… McIntyre succeeds here in opening up the dilemmas for environmental campaigners as well as recognising their enthusiasm and, at times, their great courage."
Heather Goodall, Emeritus Professor at the University of Technology Sydney, Australia, writing in History Australia, 19.1 (2022)