Producing diverse and multi-scalar climate subjects: a relational approach for understanding faith-based climate action

Authors: Bregje Van Veelen*, University of Durham, Alice Hague, James Hutton Institute
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Environment
Keywords: climate action; diversity; climate subjects; participation; justice
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Cabinet Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The multi-scalar and complex nature of climate change requires action at different scales and in different ways. One striking development is the growing presence and activity of faith-based actors seeking to take climate action (Kidwell et al., 2018). Because the engagement of these actors tends to be less conspicuous, its presence may not be as readily apparent, despite their deep commitment and “reach” – including into as yet untapped constituencies (Bomberg and Hague, 2018). While scholars such as Brand (2007, p. 627) see the emergence of new ‘green’ subjects as distinctly post-religious, others have argued that the emergence of these new subjectivities is indicative of a complex entanglement between neoliberal citizenship and religious identity (Cloke and Beaumont, 2012; Kidwell et al., 2018). This paper seeks to complement existing approaches to the study of climate action by faith-based actors by exploring the emerging, and multi-scalar, role of churches in climate action, and the subjects it produces. Through a relational approach that speaks to the STS-inspired work of e.g. Chilvers and Longhurst (2016) as well as feminist scholars such as Gibson-Graham (2008), this paper analyses the ways in which churches both create new climate subjects by requesting others to take action, but also reposition themselves as diverse and multi-scalar climate subjects in the process. In doing so, this paper highlights that faith-based climate mitigation action is not a singular project with uniform logics, goals, and normativities embedded in it, but is a set of projects, characterised by plurality, and at times contradictions.

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