Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

Environment, Power, and Justice
Southern African Histories

Edited by Graeme Wynn, Jane Carruthers, and Nancy J. Jacobs

“This is an excellent essay collection breaking new ground on environmental histories. Its aim of illuminating how environment, power, and justice are imbricated in Southern Africa builds on old academic foci … but speaks to new ecological issues. Together the chapters in this volume span African thought on ecology in the context of colonialism, water injustice, land dispossession, GMOs, rethinking invasive species and racialized urban development. It adds in a sophisticated way to the literature on environmental justice.”

Vishwas Satgar, associate professor of international relations, University of Witwatersrand

“Wynn, Jacobs, and Carruthers have carefully brought together a dozen scholars of distinct disciplines and diasporas to offer wisdom and insight into environmental justice and power in southern Africa. In offering specificity and precision as to the ways environmental harm and human inequality vary but conjoin, the volume collectively frames contemporary discussions of justice in concepts of harm from the colonial, postcolonial, and postapartheid pasts. This lively conversation not only gives new perspectives on the contingencies of the past, it opens up possibilities for the future.”

Emily Wakild, coeditor of The Nature State: Rethinking the History of Conservation

“This is a remarkable volume that offers important new insights into ways in which environmental justice and injustice play out in contemporary and historical Southern Africa. The case studies demonstrate strikingly that environmental injustice varies greatly across time and space and, to paraphrase the editors, Rachel Carson is indeed not the beginning of the southern African ‘story’ of fighting for environmental justice. This is a must-read volume for everyone interested in environmental justice, not only in the Southern African context, but also on the African continent and globally.”

Phia Steyn, University of Stirling lecturer in African environmental history

“A critical text on postcolonial environmental humanities scholarship and presents environmental justice as a ‘traveling’ multidisciplinary/interdisciplinary concept [that is] useful for scholars in many fields, such as environmental historians, political scientists, sociologists, policy planners, activists, and environmental scientists.”

H-Environment, H-Net Reviews

Spanning the colonial, postcolonial, and postapartheid eras, these historical and locally specific case studies analyze and engage vernacular, activist, and scholarly efforts to mitigate social-environmental inequity.

This book highlights the ways poor and vulnerable people in South Africa, Lesotho, and Zimbabwe have mobilized against the structural and political forces that deny them a healthy and sustainable environment. Spanning the colonial, postcolonial, and postapartheid eras, these studies engage vernacular, activist, and scholarly efforts to mitigate social-environmental inequity. Some chapters track the genealogies of contemporary activism, while others introduce positions, actors, and thinkers not previously identified with environmental justice. Addressing health, economic opportunity, agricultural policy, and food security, the chapters in this book explore a range of issues and ways of thinking about harm to people and their ecologies.

Because environmental justice is often understood as a contemporary phenomenon framed around North American examples, these fresh case studies will enrich both southern African history and global environmental studies. Environment, Power, and Justice expands conceptions of environmental justice and reveals discourses and dynamics that advance both scholarship and social change.


  • Christopher Conz
  • Marc Epprecht
  • Mary Galvin
  • Sarah Ives
  • Admire Mseba
  • Muchaparara Musemwa
  • Matthew A. Schnurr
  • Cherryl Walker

Graeme Wynn is a historical geographer and environmental historian who has published extensively on Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. Through forty years at the University of British Columbia, he has been an administrative and organizational leader, a long-serving journal editor, and the editor of the Nature | History | Society series from the University of British Columbia Press.   More info →

Jane Carruthers is well known for her expertise in environmental history in southern Africa. The author of numerous books, chapters, and academic journal articles, she has also been associated with many international organizations involved in environmental history and related scholarship.   More info →

Nancy J. Jacobs is a historian of the environment, colonial Africa, and southern Africa. The integration of social and environmental history has been her longstanding interest. Her current book project, The Global Grey Parrot, is a history of a social, intelligent, and endangered African animal that now lives in captivity around the world.   More info →

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Retail price: $36.95, S.
Release date: July 2022
20 illus. · 368 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Retail price: $80.00, S.
Release date: July 2022
20 illus. · 368 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights:  World

Release date: July 2022
20 illus. · 368 pages
Rights:  World

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