Academic journal article Social Justice

Dying Planet, Deadly People: "Race"-Sex Anxieties and Alternative Globalizations

Academic journal article Social Justice

Dying Planet, Deadly People: "Race"-Sex Anxieties and Alternative Globalizations

Article excerpt

WHAT WERE ONCE HERALDED AS "ANTI-GLOBALIZATION" MOVEMENTS ARE FAST becoming reconstituted as networks championing "alternative" globalizations. No longer presented as entirely opposed to the intensification of cross-border economic relationships (as was the case in the 1990s), activists now appear to place much more emphasis on negotiations about the form of these relationships. Some organizations, such as those engaged in the World Social Forum meetings, propose a "globalization in solidarity" that prioritizes "universal human rights" and the achievement of "democratic international systems" and institutions "at the service of social justice, equality, and the sovereignty of peoples" ("Revised World Social Forum Charter of Principles," in Sen et al., 2004: 70). Others advocate "globalization from below," whereby "people at the grass roots around the world link up to impose their own needs and interests on the process of globalization" (Brecher, Costello, and Smith, 2000). A key reason for this shifting emphasis is found in Stephanie Guilloud's "Open letter to anti-globalization protestors":

   I visited [Nicaragua] after the Seattle protests and engaged in a
   conversation with a good friend.... He struggles to keep good-paying
   work and hide his Sandinista identity in a time when Nicaragua is
   the second poorest country in this hemisphere. He said, "Global
   finance institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the
   WTO are killing us. But without them, we would die. What do you
   propose to replace them?" I felt a profound shift in my
   understanding, and I appreciate his challenge

The growing consensus is that critique is simply not enough: alternative institutions and relationships are needed.

Guilloud's position is noteworthy given her participation in "Colours of Resistance" (COR). A Montreal-based transnational "think-tank/action-tank" of nonwhite, anti-globalization activists, CoR was formed as a response:

   to [a] growing feeling of a gap between what has been labelled as
   the "anti-globalization" movement in the "West" and the day-to-day
   organizing efforts in communities of colour to resist the impacts
   of global capitalism (

CoR's web site hosts bulletin board discussions, articles, and resource tools that consider, critique, and propose resolution to the myriad ways in which "race"-racism is implicated in the pursuit and intensification of capital accumulation, as well as in the responses formed in opposition to it. Guilloud's (and many of her CoR colleagues') embrace of "alternative" globalizations bears witness to the salience of this approach across movements, including ones more critically engaged in questions about power and justice.

CoR participants cast a wide net in their analysis of "race"-racism and globalization, and address diverse themes in their contributions to the site, including free trade, privatization of public services, war and terrorism, immigration, marginalization of indigenous communities, environmental justice, colonialism, American/AngloSaxon imperialism, North-South relations, as well as same-sex marriage, prisons, punk rock, and black liberation. This essay attempts to contribute to this already lively debate by examining the work of "race"-racism in constitutions of one popularly touted "alternative" globalization, global environmentalism. Referencing work by Richard Dyer, Hazel Carby, bell hooks, Ali Rattansi, and others, I bring attention to the ways in which sex-"race" anxieties shape explanations of global environmental degradation, as well as responses formed and promoted by environmentalists. I make no claims to represent the full breadth of activities, conversations, and ideas that comprise environmentalism, nor do I provide a full analysis of the movements' many conflicts and contradictions. …

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