Reconceptualising local community environment, identity and threat

  • Dalby S
  • Mackenzie F
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Abstract

Economic ' development ' driven by global economic forces produces specific expressions of ' community ' in places where large new economic projects are to be located. This paper draws on contempora y geopolitical literature to theorise community identity as partly formulated in response to external ' threats ' . A comparative study of community mobilisation in response to proposals to locate coastal superquarries on the Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, and Cape Breton, Nova Scoria, Canada, suggests the a ~ ~ l i c a b i l i t y of this theoretical framework for extending geographical analysis of community identity and the politics of place. Global and local environments As the scope of global economic activity expands to ' master space ' (Agnew and Corbridge 1995), controversies over the impacts of ' development ' projects occur in places once considered beyond the direct reaches of pollution and despoliation. In some cases resistance to environmental destruction, visible in intense siting disputes and the politics of ' Not In My Back Yard ' (NIMBY) in populous regions, indirectly displaces developments into more remote regions, and in particular, into the resource hinterlands of the advanced industrial states. There, in turn, ' developments ' also often encounter opposition phrased in terms of protecting communities from environmentally and culturally threatening ' external ' impositions. Investigating these particular struggles brings together discussions of community and local identity as well as discussions of alternative modes of sustainable community development. In many cases these dynamics are overlaid with important questions of aboriginal societies' claims to traditional territories and access to resources needed for subsistence (Ecologist 1993). The local and the global are inextricably interconnected in contemporary environmental politics (Princen and Finger 1994). These matters are of obvious concern within the discipline of geography. Geographers have often written on themes of environmentalism and the political implications of incorporating concern with the environment into policy decisions (Bayliss-Smith and Owens 1994; Cosgrove 1990). In particular some political geographers have focused on the politics of siting ' dirty things ' (Allison 1986).

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