Situated, Networked Environmentalisms: A Case for Environmental Theory from the South



There has long been a notable difference between the environmentalism of the global North and South. Despite this and recent calls for the development of theory from the global South, research on environmentalism in the global South continues to largely employ Northern theory. While much of this seeks to inform and revise theory, and a case has been made for the articulation of an environmentalism of the poor, work in the South remains dominated by framings and questions articulated in the North. In this paper, I examine geographical research to make a case for also articulating situated environmentalisms which move beyond the generalization of Southern environmentalism to investigate how the environment is understood in specific contexts. Such environmentalisms should not be seen as developed in isolation but are recognized as products of intra- and international networked engagements. I explore this argument through the case of geographical research in South Africa. My review of the literature suggests that work in South Africa largely speaks to international environmental discourses and environmental management and governance theories. While this research productively engages with global academia and environmentalisms, it overlooks many significant questions and how the local context matters. I argue that this is not simply a case of South African exceptionalism, but instead, that there is a need to more broadly consider situated, networked environmentalism in both the global North and South.