By recasting citizenship as a distinct political activity valuable in its own right, one cannot avoid the question about what is the most appropriate site for citizenship: is it in community, a nation-state, the planet, or some nebulously inclusive, perhaps virtual, public sphere? Or perhaps it is more useful theoretically to eschew either-or dichotomies in favour of a more complex and 'nested' picture of social, political, and ecological space(s). In any case, given that citizenship has been about membership and exclusion, any feminist attempt to reclaim and re-create citizenship must be founded on a principled stance in favour of inclusivity. Some feminists seek inclusion into an exclusionary definition of citizenship by deploying a strategy of reversal (i.e., rehabilitating masculine citizenship with feminine and maternal values), but they generally leave its terri-toriality - its connections to particular places - unquestioned. Against this approach, I am in agreement with feminist theorists who consider the concept of universal citizenship to be central to a non-essentialist feminist political project for social justice. [...]
A cosmopolitan approach to ecological citizenship, with its emphasis on universal rights, responsibilities, and risks, is more in line with a feminist desire for a politicized and generalized ethics of care than eco-communitarian or individualist approaches to green virtue. A post-cosmopolitan approach, as suggested by Dobson (2003), is even more compatible because it allows us to envision a global civil society that transcends the particular concerns of private life, the local community, and the nation-state (thereby holding the possibility for inclusivity and 'solidarity in difference') while also addressing issues of international social and environmental injustice (e.g., the global asymmetries produced by the North's economic exploitation and pollution of the South's natural resources). A post-cosmopolitan approach to citizenship offers an alternative to the view that powerless people in specific places (i.e., countries in the South) are to blame for the purportedly interrelated problems of environmental degradation and global insecurity because they are exhausting scarce resources to sustain unchecked population growth (see, for example, Kaplan 1994; Homer-Dixon 1999) - a view that may be used to justify the violation of their human rights. It instead turns the blame back on the powerful and persuades us that with affluence and power come the responsibility for global unsustainability and, by extension, the obligation to work - ideally as an ecological citizen - towards a just and sustainable society. [...]
The feminist approach to citizenship that I favour, because of its principled stance against exclusion, also embraces a notion of global citizenship so that it includes all those who are non-citizens in current conceptions of place-based citizenship (e.g., refugees, temporary guest workers, nannies, etc.). [...] My vision of feminist ecological citizenship provisionally entails a commitment to inclusivity, the protection of universal human rights, a view of environmental problems as globally complex and interrelated (yet asymmetrically caused and experienced), and [...] multiple public spheres not tied to place or territory. [...]
There is a tension, however, between [...] citizenship that is universal in scope and transcendent of local and national (and perhaps temporal and species) boundaries and the women activists' rootedness in their own communities and their particular interests as mothers and carers. [...] For them the local as a site for the expression of citizenship makes more sense as it is at the local level that they can get things done [...] Like 'grassroots' environmental justice activists who define the environment as the place where they 'live, work and play', the women in my study derive meaning and satisfaction from improving the quality of life in their own locality, not from working to save a distant rain forest or from some abstract concept of Gaia. [...] [They] are a long way from resembling global feminist ecocitizens. [...] What is to stop grassroots campaigns from becoming parochial and exclusionary? As Catriona Sandilands (1999, 123) points out, 'it remains important to distinguish acts of community defence and empowerment from the acts of political reflection and imagination that cultivate a common world.' [...] I would argue that what distinguishes Not In Anybody's Back Yard (NIABY) movements (to protect the quality of life everywhere, now and in the future) from NIMBY struggles (to protect one's own child's health) is a cosmopolitan consciousness that h e transcends local and private interests. [...] l y
Was this article helpful?