The rapid development of industrial activities and their externalities submit neighbouring populations to health and environmental hazards whose consequences continually provoke conflicts and require management. The justifications and their stakes are multiple. They include the appropriation and distribution of natural resources, competition among functions attributed to the involved territories, the legitimacy of actions and behaviours, the labelling of known externalities and the designation of those responsible for them, the terms of realizing ‘the public interest’, the evolution of legal regulatory regimes, environmental impacts or changes to the landscape.
The patterns of public action in this domain are the result of expert practices, mobilizations, and administrative and institutional experiments, whose inscription largely conditions apprehension of the problem and the ways in which it is treated.
The objective of this conference is to characterize these dynamics, which have shaped environmental conflicts at a local level. It is also to explore how overflowing materials are governed, from their environmental consequences to the attitude of various actors implicated in the debates and even the dispute itself. It is also to consider, in the past as well as the present, what brought these externalities into existence—not only physically and materially, but also politically, culturally, and socially: to measure and translate them so that they exist or disappear in the public sphere, to regulate and legitimate standards, to designate the territorial boundaries of affected areas, to control criticism and protests.
The viewpoint of this conference is interdisciplinary. We welcome the blending of various levels and categories of analysis. Three themes and methodologies are, however, privileged: first, to clarify how these externalities exist in the short-term and long time scale ; second, to consider what factors help produce externalities and constitute their geographical territories ; and third, to understand the dynamics of negotiation, which makes the conflicts emerging from these externalities either appear or disappear in the public sphere. Although individual cases will focus on one or more of these themes of environmental conflict, the larger goal is theoretical: to compare and discuss how such conflicts are translated and interpreted. The final objective is to discuss how interdisciplinary analysis might help illuminate conflicts of this kind.
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