Community development takes place in contested spaces in which the interests of people living, working and surviving in communities come up against the interests of powerful groups and classes in the structures of exploitation, colonisation and neoliberalism. Where community development practices respond to issues of environmental concerns, this brings an additional dimension as ‘the environment’ becomes another arena for contestation. This book aims to draw on two essential sources for understanding this conflict. One source is in the rich yet conflicted theoretical resources which have developed through academic labour around analysing the social practices of community development, popular struggle and environmental justice. The second fundamental source is the intellectual work of ordinary people engaged in such material struggles to change the world from where they live and work and make community; people who are not employed in academic labour but who, as Gramsci highlighted, are critical thinking intellectuals without whose analytical resources emancipatory politics is not possible. This includes the struggles of activist-academics (such as the editors) seeking to learn from their own engagement with popular movements. This volume therefore works in the dialogical space between knowledges of struggle and of the academy in order to critique and inform the practices of community development professionals, academics, trade union organisers, social movements, activists and ordinary people engaged in the pursuit of justice in a range of contexts in which the messy, imprecise and contested processes of community, development and environment interact.

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