The Tyranny of the Coloniality of Nature and the Elusive Question of Justice

  • Romain FrancisEmail author
Part of the Advances in African Economic, Social and Political Development book series (AAESPD)


This chapter alleges that attempts to frame a universal environmental ethic to accommodate the varied experiences of social groups in the Global South struggling against ecological injustices are based on a hegemonic Euro-American conception of human–nature relations. It contends that critical approaches that reveal how non-Europeans and subsequently the natural world were excluded from the evolving discourse of environmentalism, whilst claiming to reconcile “brown” with “green” issues actually conceals a more fundamental pattern of power that reproduces ecological injustice. The main point of departure is that environmental degradation and efforts at conserving and protecting nature are ostensibly part of a process of dehumanization born of western imperialism that continues to define not only our ecological past, but our ecological futures as well—what is referred to here as the tyranny of the coloniality of nature. By historicising, theorising and applying the coloniality of nature as an analytical tool to demonstrate the inextricable link between oppression of the subaltern and nature, this chapter will also through a personal experience, propose an alternate path to ecological justice. This represents a decolonial turn in forging an authentic environmental ethic, which is informed by the knowledge, experiences, cultures and practices of the oppressed.


Justice Ecology Coloniality of nature Dehumanisation Environmental ethic and decolonial turn 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of South AfricaPretoriaSouth Africa

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