Environmental Justice in the Middle East:
Activism, Resistance, and Decolonisation
This event took place on Thursday 29 October 2020.
Featuring Carly A. Krakow, Muna Dajani, Mona Harb, Michael Mason
Co-Organized with the Middle East Centre, London School of Economics
Part of Decolonising LSE’s 2020-21 Event Series
This roundtable focuses on environmental justice, analysing the ways in which approaches to environmental studies—across disciplines ranging from international law to geography and urban planning—have traditionally overlooked and under-emphasised the critical roles of communities directly impacted by environmental injustice.
Focusing on environmental justice struggles in locations including Palestine, the Golan Heights, Lebanon, and Iraq, this conversation will explore transnational linkages between efforts and struggles in the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere. Speakers will discuss the power of community-driven activism, organising, and resistance to forms of environmental injustice such as water access denial, land dispossession, and forced exposure to toxins. The discussion will address how inclusive cities are a core component of a comprehensive approach to environmental justice, particularly in the wake of the August 2020 Beirut explosion.
Speakers will discuss how recognising and understanding the experiences of communities contending with protracted environmental injustice at the local level are critical to fully understanding the implications of international environmental injustice and the climate crisis. How have narrow definitions of environmental justice shaped policies? And how are communities resisting this repression?
Carly A. Krakow is a PhD Candidate and Judge Rosalyn Higgins Scholar in the Department of Law at LSE. Her writing, research, and activism focus on international law, environmental justice, and human rights in contexts of statelessness and displacement. Her recent writing has appeared in publications including Al Jazeera, Jadaliyya, openDemocracy, Truthout, and the academic journal Water. At Jadaliyya, she is Special Projects Managing Editor and Co-Editor of the Environment Page. Her research in the Palestinian West Bank, South Africa, and Greece has focused on topics including the law and politics of water access, refugee rights, and justice for people affected by exposure to environmental toxins.
Muna Dajani is Research Officer at the LSE Middle East Centre working on a collaborative research project with Birzeit University titled 'Mapping Memories of Resistance: The Untold Story of the Occupation of the Golan Heights'. For over 9 years, Muna has worked in the fields of environment and development in Palestine, working with grassroots initiatives, NGOs, universities and governmental bodies on social and environmental assessments, hydropolitics, advocacy and community participation. She is a policy member at Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network. She has contributed to a number of research projects including 'The Hydro-political Baseline of the Upper Jordan River', and 'Transboundary Climate Security: Climate Vulnerability and Rural Livelihoods in the Jordan River Basin'. Muna was recently awarded her PhD from the Department of Geography and Environment at LSE. Her PhD research aimed to examine the distinctive livelihood practices by which farming acquires political subjectivity in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights, examining the role of sumud (‘steadfastness’ or ‘staying on the land’) as a form of cultural resistance.
Mona Harb is Professor of Urban Studies and Politics, and research director of the Beirut Urban Lab at the American University of Beirut. She received her PhD in Political Science in 2005 from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques at Aix-Marseille (France). She is the author of Le Hezbollah à Beyrouth (1985-2005): de la banlieue à la ville (Karthala-IFPO, 2010), co-author of Leisurely Islam: Negotiating Geography and Morality in Shi'ite South Beirut (Princeton University Press, 2013, with Lara Deeb), co-editor of Local Governments and Public Goods: Assessing Decentralization in the Arab World (LCPS, 2015, with Sami Atallah), and co-editor of Refugees as City-Makers (AUB, 2018, with Mona Fawaz, Ahmad Gharbieh and Dounia Salamé). Her ongoing research investigates the public domain and urban vacancies, local governance and displacement, as well as urban activism and oppositional politics.
Michael Mason is Director of the LSE Middle East Centre. He is also Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environment and Associate of the Grantham Research Institute for Climate Change and the Environment. His research interests encompass environmental politics and governance, notably issues of accountability, transparency and security.