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Open Access A view from the concrete jungle: diverging enviromentalisms in the urban caribbean

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A view from the concrete jungle: diverging enviromentalisms in the urban caribbean

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image of New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids

Examines the disconnect between supralocal environmental discourse and policy and local understandings of environment and nature in urban areas of Jamaica and Curaçao. Through research among residents of ghettos or marginal neighbourhoods Riverton and Rae Town in Kingston, and Wishi/Marchena and Seru Fortuna in Willemstad, the author examines local environmental perceptions, placed also in a wider Caribbean context, and if and how these differ from "professional", or Western environmentalist discourse and themes. She notes that the respondents value wild, unpolluted nonurban places, but value natural resources for their instrumental above their intrinsic value, while they further object against garbage, waste, and pollution, but see them as connected to social problems. They further display coherent beliefs about the earth and human-environment relationships, influenced by religious views, combining misanthropy, anthropocentrism, and animism. Author then points out how these views diverge from "professional" versions of environmentalism of governmental or nongovernmental organizations. These can be attributed to differences in environmental worldviews, and to the fact that supralocal actors articulate environmental problems as separate, whereas the local residents consider these as interrelated with social and economic (urban) problems, including poverty, and marginalization. Author calls for incorporation of local-level environmental perceptions to make environmental policies more relevant and successful.

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