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From Turkey: A social ecology challenge to environmentalism

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From social ecologist Cagrideniz Eryilmaz in Turkey:

Social Ecology Challenges Environmentalism: HES Opposition Cases in Turkey

HES TurkeyI have completed a sociology dissertation aiming to analyze environmental grassroots movements in Turkey within a frame of social ecology. Hundreds of local movements rose against the construction of thousands of HES[1] (hydroelectric power plants) in the last few years. HES opposition shows new and unique aspects challenging traditional ‘environmentalism’ in Turkey. Except for the Bergama movement (against a gold mining company, 1990-2005), this was the first time local people developed such numerous grassroots movements throughout the country. Local people, who had not joined any protests in their lives, became pioneers of protest, voicing new slogans like “we will resist for our right to live until the end.” Not only did they join the environmental movement but they also used concepts of ‘rights of nature’ and ‘living space’ for the first time. The unique difference between traditional urban environmentalism and these local grassroots activities pushed me to write this thesis after years of professional Environmental NGO (ENGO) experience in several areas of Turkey.

Social ecology is necessary in order to analyze this movement, especially through environment/nature and environmentalism/ecology dualities. Only the critique of liberal environmentalism and the radical proposals of Libertarian Municipalism (LM) can uncover dominant urban environmentalism and analyze the significance of the rising environmental grassroots in Turkey. Beyond the scope of social movement literature, social ecological analysis provides insights for the environmental grassroots in terms of ideology, economics, politics, activities, and forms of organization that challenge domination.

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