This book addresses the policing and social control of eco–justice movements during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as activist practices of resistance during the same period. It is based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Trento, Italy, focusing on two eco–justice groups opposing a high-speed railway and the containment of wild bears.
Rooted in critical, green, cultural and sensory approaches within criminology, the book discusses the intensification of policing strategies against eco–justice protesters during the pandemic and their increased exclusion from urban centres. Highlighting activists’ radical and transformative practices of resistance, the book identifies directions for future critical and green criminological research in the area.
Chapter One focuses on the policing of eco-justice protest during the COVID-19 pandemic. Drawing on a 10-month ethnography in the city of Trento, Italy, this chapter discusses what changed in the policing of eco-justice activism during the pandemic and explains the changes through critical scholarship on protest policing, criminalization of dissent and governance of neoliberal inner-city spaces.
Drawing from urban studies, critical and cultural criminology, Chapter Two focuses on the governance of neoliberal inner-city areas and discusses how their engrained emphasis on consumption shapes individual behaviour as well as dynamics of inclusion and exclusion in the urban space. In one of its core sections, this chapter outlines some of the key ways in which vulnerable people have progressively been excluded from inner-city areas in an effort to secure and promote consumption by those better off. The chapter then turns to protesting and critically analyses some recent policies and practices that restrict the right to protest in consumption-focused inner-city areas. To these ends, it mainly draws on this book’s case study as well as on recent examples taken from Europe and beyond, where protesting has increasingly been understood as a hindrance to business and the post-pandemic economic recovery, and limited via bans and stricter regulations.
Chapter Three shifts the focus to visual and performative eco-justice resistance during the pandemic, specifically attending to their ‘affective atmospheres’ and the powerful messages and radical possibilities they often convey. Drawing on the flexible approach of Sumartojo and Pink (2018), the author uses three autoethnographic exercises to reflect on a number of affective atmospheres of resistance to which she attuned during fieldwork. These exercises show that being in atmospheres of eco-justice resistance bears a transformative potential: it enables the sharing of knowledge of eco-justice harms and also fosters imagination of new radical possibilities for the city of the future. The chapter contributes to the burgeoning field of ‘critical sensory criminology’ (McClanahan and South, 2020) and to the criminological literature on affective atmospheres, demonstrating the importance of studying atmospheres of resistance within green critical criminology. It concludes with suggestions for future green critical sensory criminological research on eco-justice resistance and their atmospheres.
The concluding chapter brings together and synthesises the empirical and theoretical insights of the previous chapters. It concludes by identifying directions for future critical and green criminological research in the area, and by discussing how green critical criminologists can support and enhance activist struggles for eco-justice.