Brooke Ackerly, “The Intersection of Global Economic, Environmental, and Gender Justice” (April 28, 2015)

Brooke Ackerly, Vanderbilt University, “The Intersection of Global Economic, Environmental, and Gender Justice”
Tuesday April 28 @ 4:30 pm, Room 5409
co-sponsored by SPTSA: Social and Political Theory Student Association

This talk is based on chapter 2 of my manuscript with the working title, Just Responsibility: Global Responsibility for Everyday Injustice. The chapter clarifies the meaning of injustice that encompasses the problems of injustice that theorists have treated as essential to the search for global justice (poverty, climate, gender inequality) and that are captured in the title of my talk. These problems are in fact global patterns of diverse experiences of everyday injustices (for example, a factory building fire or collapse, food insecurity, and gender differences in survival in natural disaster) which afflict the lives of many (few of them readers of books of political theory written in English). If we focus on any of these, then we focus on the consequences of unjust power relations. Following John Stuart Mill, I interpret the central empirical problem of taking responsibility for “injustice itself” to require taking on not the harms that are often unjust, but rather the power relations and the normalization that enable and conceal the harms. This chapter orients the problem of global responsibility for everyday injustices as a problem of causality, power relations, and normalization. Through this lens, the scope of global responsibility is more broad that those that follow from familiar philosophical accounts of global justice, and yet is more consistent with the range of political agency engaged in confronting global economic, environmental, and gender injustices. In later chapters of the book I develop a grounded, rights-based theory of global responsibility.

Brooke Ackerly is a political theorist and feminist methodologist. Her research interests include human rights, social and environmental justice, democracy, and methodologies for political theory and social science. She integrates normative and empirical research. She practices political theory as a vocation for pursuing the questions most pressing for the “struggles and wishes of the age” as they are identified by those who are themselves in struggle. Her first project, Political Theory and Feminist Social Criticism (Cambridge 2000), developed a methodology for a grounded approach to normative political theory that was inspired by the work of feminist activists and scholars around the world. Her second project, which includes Universal Human Rights in a World of Difference (Cambridge 2008), applied that methodology to the particular question of human rights and provided an illustration of these methods. Her current project, Just Responsibility: Global Responsibility for Everyday Injustices, continues this agenda of empirically informed normative theorizing. The book draws on the ways in which activists and other actors concerned with global injustice use a human rights approach to taking up and carrying out what they portray are their responsibilities for global justice.

She is currently leading the Global Feminism Collaborative in ways of developing tools for evaluation of gender justice initiatives. This is a participatory action research agenda that draws on the work of Just Responsibility to partner with funders and activist organizations which are trying to address global injustice through local gender equity efforts in democratic, post-conflict, and post-disaster settings. Finally, she is currently a partner in the study of the social justice dimensions of human-environment recursive interactions.