Environmentalism under Authoritarian Regimes: Myth, Propaganda, Reality, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Environmentalism under Authoritarian Regimes

Myth, Propaganda, Reality, 1st Edition

Edited by Stephen Brain, Viktor Pál


240 pages | 8 B/W Illus.

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Since the early 2000s, authoritarianism has risen as an increasingly powerful global phenomenon. This shift has not only social and political implications, but also environmental implications: authoritarian leaders seek to recast the relationship between society and the government in every aspect of public life, including environmental policy. When historians of technology or the environment have investigated the environmental consequences of authoritarian regimes, they have frequently argued that authoritarian regimes have been unable to produce positive environmental results or adjust successfully to global structural change, if they have shown any concern for the environment at all. Put another way, the scholarly consensus holds that authoritarian regimes on both the left and the right generally have demonstrated an anti-environmentalist bias, and when opposed by environmentalist social movements, have succeeded in silencing those voices.

This book explores the theme of environmental politics and authoritarian regimes on both the right and the left. The authors argue that in instances when environmentalist policies offer the possibility of bolstering a country’s domestic (nationalist) appeal or its international prestige, authoritarian regimes can endorse and have endorsed environmental protective measures. The collection of essays analyzes environmentalist initiatives pursued by authoritarian regimes, and provides explanations for both the successes and failures of such regimes, looking at a range of case studies from a number of countries, including Brazil, China, Poland, and Zimbabwe. The volume contributes to the scholarly debate about the social and political preconditions necessary for effective environmental protection.

This book will be of great interest to those studying environmental history and politics, environmental humanities, ecology, and geography.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction Stephen Brain and Viktor Pál On the right 2. Reforestation of Waste Lands and "Environmental Statehood" in Nineteenth Century Prussia Jawad Daheur 3. Red and Green All Over: Counterinsurgency and Conservation in the Jungles of Cold War Guatemala Tony Andersson 4. Hydroelectric Dams and the Rise of Environmentalism Under Dictatorship in Brazil and Paraguay (1950-1990): the Case of Itaipu Nathalia Capellini Carvalho de Oliveira and Carlos Gomez Florentin 5. Crafting Authoritarian Atmospheres Under Pinochet’s Dictatorship Leonardo Valenzuela Pérez 6. Bark beetles and ultra-right nationalist outbreaks: Bialowieza, Poland Eunice Blavascunas and Agata Agnieszka Konczal On the left 7. Planned Environment in a Socialist Dictatorship: Complex Water Management and Soil Improvement in Moravia Jiří Janáč 8. Slovakia´s economic and political development in the communist regime of the post 1948 Czechoslovakia and its environmental context Ľudovít Hallon and Miroslav Sabol 9. Retention of Sulfur Dioxide emission in the GDR: between Technology, Economics, Diplomacy and Public Opinion Michel Dupuy 10. Sino-Silviculture: State-Sponsored Green Forestry Initiatives in Mao’s China Christopher Ree 11. Zimbabwe’s Drift Toward Authoritarianism and Its Environmental Consequences, 2000-2017 Mucha Musemwa 12. Conclusions and Perspectives Richard Tucker

About the Editors

Stephen Brain is an Associate Professor of History at Mississippi State University. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2007. His first book, Song of the Forest, was published in 2011.

Viktor Pál received his PhD at the University of Tampere, Finland. Currently he is an international postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratory for Environmental and Technological History at the Higher Schools of Economics in St Petersburg, Russia. His first book Technology and the Environment in State-socialist Hungary: An Economic History was published in 2017.

About the Series

Routledge Environmental Humanities

From microplastics in the sea to hyper-trends such as global climate change, mega-extinction, and widening social disparities and displacement, we live on a planet undergoing tremendous flux and uncertainty. At the center of this transformation is human culture, both contributing to the state of the world and responding to planetary change. The Routledge Environmental Humanities Series seeks to engage with contemporary environmental challenges through the various lenses of the humanities and to explore foundational issues in environmental justice, multicultural environmentalism, ecofeminism, environmental psychology, environmental materialities and textualities, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, environmental communication and information management, multispecies relationships, and related topics. The series is premised on the notion that the arts, humanities, and social sciences, integrated with the natural sciences, are essential to comprehensive environmental studies.

The environmental humanities are a multidimensional discipline encompassing such fields as anthropology, history, literary and media studies, philosophy, psychology, religion, sociology, and women’s and gender studies; however, the Routledge Environmental Humanities is particularly eager to receive book proposals that explicitly cross traditional disciplinary boundaries, bringing the full force of multiple perspectives to illuminate vexing and profound environmental topics. We favor manuscripts aimed at an international readership and written in a lively and accessible style. Our readers include scholars and students from across the span of environmental studies disciplines and thoughtful citizens and policy makers interested in the human dimensions of environmental change.

Please contact the Editor, Rebecca Brennan ([email protected]), to submit proposals.

Praise for A Cultural History of Climate Change (2016):

A Cultural History of Climate Change shows that the humanities are not simply a late-arriving appendage to Earth System science, to help in the work of translation. These essays offer distinctive insights into how and why humans reason and imagine their ‘weather-worlds’ (Ingold, 2010). We learn about the interpenetration of climate and culture and are prompted to think creatively about different ways in which the idea of climate change can be conceptualised and acted upon beyond merely ‘saving the planet’.

Professor Mike Hulme, King's College London, in Green Letters

Series Editors:

Professor Scott Slovic, University of Idaho, USA

Professor Joni Adamson, Arizona State University, USA

Professor YUKI Masami, Kanazawa University, Japan

Previous editors:

Professor Iain McCalman, University of Sydney Research Fellow in History; Director, Sydney University Environment Institute.

Professor Libby Robin, Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra; Guest Professor of Environmental History, Division of History of Science, Technology and Environment, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm Sweden.

Dr Paul Warde, Reader in Environmental History, University of Cambridge, UK

Editorial Board

Christina Alt, St Andrews University, UK, Alison Bashford, University of New South Wales, Australia, Peter Coates, University of Bristol, UK, Thom van Dooren, University of New South Wales, Australia, Georgina Endfield, Liverpool UK, Jodi Frawley, University of Western Australia, Andrea Gaynor, The University of Western Australia, Australia, Christina Gerhardt, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, USA,□Tom Lynch, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, USA, Jennifer Newell, Australian Museum, Sydney, Australia , Simon Pooley, Imperial College London, UK, Sandra Swart, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, Ann Waltner, University of Minnesota, US, Jessica Weir, University of Western Sydney, Australia

International Advisory Board

William Beinart,University of Oxford, UK, Jane Carruthers, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa, Dipesh Chakrabarty, University of Chicago, USA, Paul Holm, Trinity College, Dublin, Republic of Ireland, Shen Hou, Renmin University of China, Beijing, Rob Nixon, Princeton University, USA, Pauline Phemister, Institute of Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, UK, Sverker Sörlin, KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, Helmuth Trischler, Deutsches Museum, Munich and Co-Director, Rachel Carson Centre, LMU Munich University, Germany, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale University, USA, Kirsten Wehner, University of London, UK

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Government / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / General
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Fascism & Totalitarianism
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy