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Critical perspectives on community-engaged praxis with environmental justice organizations

Authors: Jonathan London*, Dept of Human Ecology/ Community and Regional Development
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Applied Geography, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: environmental justice, participatory research, community partnerships
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Critical environmental justice studies expands the discourse of the field, including new populations, locales, scales and theoretical vantage points. Community-engaged research adopts a reflexive stance to collaboration between researchers and community partners. It looks critically at power-relations and knowledge-relations between parties that connect and divide them. Bringing these two fields together yields a critical environmental justice research praxis that examines inequities both as a topic of study and as a process through which the research takes place.

This paper draws from nearly 20 years of community-engaged research conducted in partnership with environmental justice organizations in California by the author and colleagues together with community partners. It examines the processes through which the projects were conceived, implemented and applied to informing policy and advocacy. Projects have ranged from the development of cumulative impacts analyses in rural regions of the state, to water justice, to urban agriculture, to environmental justice reporting networks. In all cases, the paper examines the challenges of navigating the lines between research and advocacy, and managing tensions over resources, knowledge, and authority.

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