Environmental resistance in the Anthropocene


  • Lynda M. Collins University of Ottawa


Ecological law, Indigenous law, environmental governance, Anthropocene, Derecho ecológico, derecho indígena, gobernanza medioambiental, Antropoceno


Scientists describe the current “Anthropocene epoch” as one of profound anthropogenic disruptions in the ecosphere that place humanity at an unacceptable risk. This unprecedented ecological moment in human history is rooted in profoundly unsustainable patterns of production and consumption protected by liberal power structures expressed through law. The exigencies of the Anthropocene call us to expand the subjects of resistance to include future generations of humans, plants, non-human animals, ecosystems and “non-living” natural entities (such as water, air and climatic systems). Since these constituencies cannot resist in a socio-political sense, their representation in current socio-political systems will depend upon “an insurrection of subjugated knowledges” (Foucault 1980, p. 81) including Indigenous law, pre-modern holistic traditions of Western legal thought, and emerging theories of ecological law. This article will explore these approaches as possible paths forward in the Anthropocene, employing a comparative law perspective that considers relevant jurisprudence and policy developments from around the globe.

Los científicos describen la época antropocena actual como una época de profundas perturbaciones antropogénicas en la ecosfera, situando a la humanidad ante un peligro inaceptable. Este momento ecológico hunde sus raíces en modelos insostenibles de producción y consumo, protegidos por estructuras de poder liberales. Las exigencias del Antropoceno nos urgen a incluir entre los sujetos de la resistencia a generaciones futuras de humanos, plantas, animales no humanos, ecosistemas y entes “no vivos” (como el agua, el aire y los sistemas climáticos). Como esas entidades no pueden ejercer resistencia en un sentido sociopolítico, su representación dependerá de “una insurrección de conocimientos subyugados” (Foucault 1980, p. 81), incluyendo leyes indígenas, tradiciones holísticas premodernas de pensamiento jurídico occidental y teorías jurídicas ecológicas emergentes. Este artículo examina tales enfoques, utilizando una perspectiva jurídica comparativa que toma en consideración jurisprudencia relevante y desarrollos de políticas en todo el mundo.

Available from: https://doi.org/10.35295/osls.iisl/0000-0000-0000-1048

Author Biography

Lynda M. Collins, University of Ottawa

Lynda M. Collins graduated as Gold Medalist from Osgoode Hall Law School in 2000. Professor Collins practiced with the Sierra Legal Defence Fund until 2003, litigating major environmental cases in tribunals ranging from the Ontario Municipal Board to the Supreme Court of Canada. From 2003 to 2005, Professor Collins practiced toxic tort with a leading San Francisco law firm representing state and local governments in complex multi-district litigation against the oil industry to recover damages for drinking water contamination.


How to Cite

Collins, L. M. (2020) “Environmental resistance in the Anthropocene”, Oñati Socio-Legal Series, 10(6), pp. 1317–1337. Available at: https://opo.iisj.net/index.php/osls/article/view/1041 (Accessed: 28 June 2022).