Call for papers – Exploring ‘francophone’ environmental justice approaches

November 23, 2018 - Categorised in: -

Call for papers – Environmental Justice Conference 2019: ‘Transformative Connections’,

University of East Anglia, 2-4 July 2019

Exploring ‘francophone’ environmental justice approaches

Convenors: Brendan Coolsaet, ESPOL Lille; Valérie Deldrève, IRSTEA Bordeaux

The political ideal of environmental justice (EJ) emerges in the late 1970s in the United States, with the struggles of minorities against unequal spatial distributions of toxic pollution and hazardous waste. The ensuing development of related conceptual frameworks has largely drawn on liberal justice theories and US-inspired critical theory (e.g. Rawls, Young, Fraser, Sen; see Schlosberg 2007). While joining the race a few decades later, francophone scholarship has preferred the concept of ‘environmental inequality’ (inégalité environnementale; e.g. Zaccaï et al 2007) to ‘environmental justice’ (justice environnementale). Not only does this cast the debate in negative terms (inequality), it has also been considered to fall outside of the scope of US-style environmental justice (Laigle and Oehler 2004; Emelianoff 2008; Gagnon et al. 2008). Francophone EJ literature was particularly developed within the premises of sustainable development discourses, focusing on issues such as health (e.g. Charles et al. 2007), poverty alleviation (e.g. Gagnon et al., 2008), urban planning (e.g. Faburel 2011; Laigle and Tual 2007), or territoriality (e.g. Gobert 2010; Emelianoff 2008; Laurent, 2013).

Since the turn of the century, both approaches have largely evolved in parallel, both conceptually and politically. While anglophone EJ scholars have recently called for enlarging the conceptual underpinnings of environmental justice studies (Pellow 2018; Pulido 2017; Holifield, Porter and Walker 2009), ‘francophone’ influences have largely remained a blind spot in the literature, despite the dynamism of both francophone academic (e.g. Blanchon et al., 2011; Hache 2013; Deldrève 2015; Alvarez and Coolsaet 2019) and activist EJ work (e.g. Collectif Mauvaise troupe 2018).

This panel hence focusses on the distinctiveness (or lack thereof) of French/francophone approaches to environmental justice. We hope to move this conversation forward by establishing cross-Channel connections between academic environmental justice networks in the UK and in France. We seek empirically or theoretically framed works that engage with topics such as (but not limited to):

– The differences and/or similarities between anglo-american/liberal environmental justice and francophone ‘environmental inequality’ (inégalité environnementale)

– The usefulness/adequacy of anglo-american/liberal environmental justice approaches in francophone contexts

– The potential of French/francophone thought for EJ, including (but not limited to):

  • French social theory and post-structuralism (e.g. Bourdieu, Derrida, Deleuze, Foucault, Sartre)
  • francophone postcolonial work (e.g. Césaire, Fanon, Mbembe, Senghor, Vergès)
  • French degrowth & political ecology (e.g. Gorz, Latouche)
  • French gender studies, intersectionality, ecofeminism, and ethics of care (e.g. Fassin, Guétat, Hache, Larrère, Stengers, Zitouni)

– Do EJ struggles in francophone countries generate different political claims?  



If you are interested in contributing a paper to this session, please send your abstract (250 words) to Brendan Coolsaet ( and Valérie Deldrève ( by 10 January 2019.



  • Brendan Coolsaet is an Associate Professor at the European School of Political and Social Sciences (ESPOL Lille) and a Research Fellow with the Global Environmental Justice group of the University of East Anglia (UK). He works on environmental justice, biodiversity conservation and food politics.
  • Valérie Deldrève is a Research Director at the National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture (IRSTEA Bordeaux). In 2016 she created an interdisciplinary and francophone environmental justice network with C. Lejeune (University of Lausanne-Swiss), N. Lewis et G. Brisson (University of Québec in Rimouski, Canada), M. Thiann-Bo (Université de La Réunion-France), C. Claeys et S. Dos Santos (Aix-Marseille University-France), gathering over 40 environmental justice scholars. The network also hosts a seminar series on environmental justice. More information on
  • Information about the conference can be found on



  • Alvarez L. and B. Coolsaet (2019) Decolonizing Environmental Justice Studies: a Latin American perspective. Capitalism Nature Socialism (forthcoming)
  • Blanchon D. ; Gardin J. ; Moreau S. eds. (2011) Justice et injustices environnementales. Presses universitaires de Paris Ouest, Nanterre
  • Charles L. ; Emelianoff C. ; Ghorra-Gobin C. ; Roussel I. ; Roussel F.-X. ; Scarwell H. (2007) Les multiples facettes des inégalités écologiques. Développement durable et territoire 9.
  • Deldrève, V. (2015). Pour une sociologie des inégalités environnementales. Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang B.
  • Emélianoff C. (2008) La problématique des inégalités écologiques, un nouveau paysage conceptuel. Ecologie et politique 31: 19-31.
  • Faburel G. (2010) Débats sur les inégalités environnementales. Une autre approche de l’environnement urbain. Justice spatiale | spatial justice 2 : 102-132.
  • Fol S. ; Pflieger G. (2000) La justice environnementale aux Etats-Unis : construction et usages d’une catégorie d’analyse et d’une catégorie d’action. Justice Spatiale/Spatial Justice 2: 166-188.
  • Gagnon B. ; Lewis N. ; Ferrari S. (2008) Environnement et pauvreté : regards croisés entre l’éthique et la justice environnementales. Ecologie et politique 35: 79-90.
  • Gobert J. (2010) Ethique environnementale, remédiation écologique et compensations territoriales : entre antinomie et correspondances. Vertigo, vol. 10, n° 1.
  • Hache E. (2013) Justice environnementale, ici et là-bas. Contretemps
  • Laigle L. and Oehler V. (2004) Les enjeux sociaux et environnementaux du développement urbain : la question des inégalités écologiques, Final Report, Centre Scientifique et Technique du Bâtiment, Paris.
  • Laigle L and Mélanie Tual (2007) Conceptions des inégalités écologiques dans cinq pays européens : quelle place dans les politiques de développement urbain durable ? Développement durable et territoires 9
  • Laurent E. (2013) Vers l’égalité des territoires. rapport demandé par la ministre de l’égalité des territoires et du logement, Paris.
  • Holifield, R., M. Porter, and G. Walker (eds.). 2009. Special issue on “Spaces of environmental justice: Frameworks for critical engagement.” Antipode 41 (4).
  • Collectif Mauvaise troupe (2018) The Zad and NoTAV: Territorial Struggles and the Making of a New Political Intelligence. Verso Books
  • Pellow, D. 2018. What is Critical Environmental Justice. Polity Press
  • Pulido, L. 2017a. Geographies of race and ethnicity II: Environmental racism, racial capitalism and state-sanctioned violence. Progress in Human Geography 41 (4): 524–533.
  • Schlosberg, D. (2009). Defining environmental justice: Theories, movements, and nature. Oxford University Press.


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