Understanding the Rights of Nature

A Critical Introduction

Rivers, landscapes, whole territories: these are the latest entities environmental activists have fought hard to include in the relentless expansion of rights in our world. But what does it mean for a landscape to have rights? Why would anyone want to create such rights, and to what end? Is it a good idea, and does it come with risks? This book presents the logic behind giving nature rights and discusses the most important cases in which this has happened, ranging from constitutional rights of nature in Ecuador to rights for rivers in New Zealand, Colombia, and India. Mihnea Tanasescu offers clear answers to the thorny questions that the intrusion of nature into law is sure to raise.


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1 February 2022, 168 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8394-5431-2
File size: 1.1 MB

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Mihnea Tanasescu

Mihnea Tanasescu, Research Foundation Flanders, Belgien

1. Why did you choose this topic?

It is fascinating and potentially very important. I admire the courage of practitioners and activists that go against the grain, and wanted to engage with their work.

2. What new perspectives does your book offer?

I have always thought it necessary to interact with ideas critically. For me, it is the only way of staying true to their radical potential, by allowing them to continuously change. My book engages in that way, discussing the rights of nature while suspending belief (or disbelief) in their potential. I think this allows for continued reflection.

3. What makes your topic relevant for current research debates?

The rights of nature are becoming quite popular, both in academic debates and in practice. This is great, as it shakes people out of ›common sense‹. My book tries to offer ways of safeguarding against the creation of orthodoxy in rights of nature themselves. For example, I question at length the positive relationship between rights and emancipatory politics, because it has become a hegemonic assumption in scholarship and practice.

4. Choose one person you would like to discuss your book with!

Elizabeth Macpherson.

5. Your book summary in one sentence:

This book presents the rights of nature as struggles for political representation that may or may not achieve environmental results, redistribute power more equitably, or break free from inherited paradigms.

Mihnea Tanasescu
Book title
Understanding the Rights of Nature A Critical Introduction
transcript Verlag
Commodity Group
PHI034000 LAW000000 POL044000
Release date
1 February 2022
Politik, Natur, Zivilgesellschaft
Political Science, Environmental Law, Political Ecology, Philosophy, Sociology, Development Studies, Critical Jurisprudence, and anybody working on the rights of nature
Rights of Nature, Ecuador, New Zealand, Legal Personality, Law, Nature, Politics, Civil Society, Social Philosophy, Environmental Policy, Social Movements, Political Science

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