Environmental Movements and Politics of the Asian Anthropocene is edited by Paul Jobin, Ming-sho Ho and Hsin-Huang Michael Hsiao, and published by ISEAS – Yosof Ishak Institute. It is reviewed for JCA by editor Kevin Hewison of the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Centre for Macau Studies at the University of Macau.
With nine country chapters, a substantial Introduction and
useful Conclusion, the collection seeks to update the fates and fortunes of environmental activism in the region. In theoretical terms, it grapples with the contested notion of the Anthropocene, and reconsiders the relationship between environmentalism and democracy.
The focus is on the extent of human-induced change across the region over the past two decades. The data presented are, not unexpectedly, bleak and alarming. The authors offer case studies focused on developments in each country over this period, with each chapter
including cases of particular struggles and an account of recent environmental movement
development. With chapters on Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines,
Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Reading across the chapters reveals the great variety of responses to environmental challenges.
Hewison observes that the close analysis of the cases and the diversity across the region reflects the greatest strength of areas studies approaches: the deep understanding provided by country experts as they engage in qualitative research and assessment.
He concludes that the chapters provide clearly written, classroom-ready accounts of the trials and tribulations of environmental movements in the region, along with some insightful case study material. In addition, the editors have done an excellent job of
bringing coherence to the collection. That coherence, however, does not over-simply a
complex and diverse set of issues and challenges for the environment, for politics,
and for environmental movements in the region.