We use cookies to improve your website experience. To learn about our use of cookies and how you can manage your cookie settings, please see our Cookie Policy. By closing this message, you are consenting to our use of cookies.

Environmental Challenges in the Indian Ocean Region: Environmental Citizenship and Civil Society Responses

Special Issue

Full paper submitted deadline: 30 June 2019

Publication in hard copy: March 2020


For information and submission style guidelines, please refer to the Instructions for Authors page before making your submission.
View IFAs

How could civil society respond to the impact of climate change?

The scale and severity of the environmental challenges we face are quickly becoming apparent. The Indian Ocean Region features many places that are particularly vulnerable to negative effects of environmental degradation and climate change, which will have profound economic, social and cultural impacts. Human impact on the environment is also having profound political effects, including on the very concept and content of citizenship. Governments around the world are recognizing environmental rights; activists refer to our duties to the environment; corporations present themselves as good environmental citizens; citizens are exhorted to respond to their environmental impacts individually by means of tools such as the “ecological footprint” or by applying the practice of “reduce, reuse, and recycle”. These three political actors -citizens, governments, and corporations- are being drawn into resolving very serious environmental challenges all around the world.

This Call for Papers focuses particularly on the challenges to civil society in the Indian Ocean Region from environmental changes and the efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Some key themes which emerge from this are: how civil society is responding or could respond to these challenges; what are the technological disruptions and opportunities, and what are their community impacts; what new forms of community engagement and civil participation are emerging and/or might be required; and how these challenges and our responses to them affect the idea of citizenship.

Environmental citizenship

Scholars have begun to consider some of the political impacts of these environmental challenges under a new field of study called environmental citizenship. Concern for the environment – driven primarily by the preoccupation with sustainability – is reshaping traditional formulations of citizenship. Indeed, environmental citizenship is an idea whose time has come, and there is no question that environmental challenges and our response to them will shape what it means to be a citizen in the 21st century. One of the objectives of this special edition of the Journal of the Indian Ocean Region is to explore the impact of environmental concerns in our understanding of citizenship, as well as how the language of citizenship (e.g. rights, duties, status, etc.) is shaping environmental politics and policies in the Indian Ocean Region.

In other words, the objective is to improve our understanding of the intersections between environment and citizenship in the region. There is no doubt about the significance of environmental citizenship as an emerging field of study, but there is a dearth of research on environmental citizenship in the specific context of the Indian Ocean Region. We hope research in this edition will provide important practical insights to improve resilience and adaptation; and provide useful theoretical insights into the nature of environmental citizenship discourse and practice in the Indian Ocean Region.

Topics of particular relevance for this special edition include (but are not limited to):

  • environmental activism [the actions of individual citizens and civil society groups, and civil society responses to environmental challenges, including new and emerging forms of social movements, social organization, and community engagement]
  • climate refugees [the impact of population displacement and migration forced by climate change on theoretical and practical articulations of citizenship]
  • food citizenship [the intersection of environmental issues with food security and food politics e.g. the right to food, genetically modified crops, consumer rights, etc.]
  • constitutional texts [the constitutional recognition of environmental rights and duties, as well as membership e.g. future generations, rights of nature]
  • rights of nature [the theoretical and practical implications of the recognition of rights/personhood to rivers, mountains, ecosystems, etc.]
  • environmental pedagogies and representations [educational tools and texts used to teach environmental citizenship in formal settings; media coverage and popular culture representations of environmental issues and values, etc.]
  • ecofeminist citizenship [the intersection of gender, citizenship and the environment in theoretical terms and/or in empirical cases]
  • indigenous environmental citizenship [the intersection of indigenous rights and environmental rights in theoretical terms and/or in empirical cases]
  • corporate environmental citizenship [the intersection of corporate social responsibility and environmental citizenship in the discourses, initiatives and actions of business corporations]
  • environmental governance [government policies and initiatives, particularly if these are explicitly articulated in the language of citizenship, e.g. rights, duties, membership]

The contributions can be theoretical and/or empirical, and they can focus on a specific topic or propose an integrated analysis, for a single country, a group of countries, or the overall Indian Ocean Region.

Authors are encouraged to submit abstracts and proposals to the Commissioning Editor of the journal, Dr Adela Alfonsi [adela.alfonsi@adelaide.edu.au], or to the Guest Editor: Dr Benito Cao [benito.cao@adelaide.edu.au].