Assembling Justice Spaces: The Scalar Politics of Environmental Justice in North-east England

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In contrast to the US environmental justice movement, which has been successful in building a networked environmentalism that recognises—and has impacted upon—national patterns of distributional (in)equalities, campaigns in the UK have rarely developed beyond the local or articulated a coherent programme of action that links to wider socio-spatial justice issues or effects real changes in the regulatory or political environment. Our purpose in this paper is to extend research which explores the spatial politics of mobilisation, by attending to the multi-scalar dynamics embedded in the enactment of environmental justice (EJ) in north-east England. It is an approach that is indebted to recent work on the scalar politics of EJ, and also to the network ideas associated with actor-network theory (ANT)-inspired research on human–nature relations. Our account provides preliminary reflections on the potential for an “assemblage” perspective which draws together people, texts, machines, animals, devices and discourses in relations that collectively constitute—and scale—EJ. To conclude, and building upon this approach, we suggest future research avenues that we believe present a promising agenda for critical engagement with the production, scaling and politics of environmental (in)justice.

Keywords: Teesside; assemblage; environmental justice; north-east England; scale

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, Durham University, Durham, UK;, Email: 2: Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, Tufts University, Medford, MA, USA;, Email:

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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