Friday, April 19, 2019

Published Article: Marrying Anthropocentrism to Ecocentrism: The Rising Voices of Dissent in American Environmentalism

Published Article:

Title: Marrying Anthropocentrism to Ecocentrism: The Rising Voices of Dissent in American Environmentalism

Author: Dr. Mohamed Elkamel Bakari


In light of multiple significant incidents in its contemporary history, the American environmental movement (EM) seems to be at a crossroads as the national consensus on this movement––forged during the 1970s––starts to crack under the strain of rising challenges. Communities most adversely affected by environmental hazards––usually referred to as communities of color and labor––now seem to be estranged from and ignored by a mostly ecocentric movement they can hardly identify with. Against such a backdrop, this article examines the emergence of new dissenting ‘anthropocentric’ voices within the American EM––most notably the Environmental Justice Movement (EJM)––and discusses the multiple facets of the anthropocentric-ecocentric divide and its bearing on the evolution of this movement. I will further analyze whether the emerging sustainability discourse will be able to contain this ideological divide and offer a reconciliation framework for a harmonization of these movements’ objectives, policies, and modes of activism.

Keywords: American environmentalism, ecocentrism, anthropocentrism, environmental justice, sustainability.

Citation info:

Bakari, M. E. K. (2019). Marrying Anthropocentrism to Ecocentrism: The Rising Voices of Dissent in American Environmentalism. American Studies Journal 66. Web. 8 Apr. 2019. DOI 10.18422/66-01. 

Publisher: American Studies Journal.  ISSN 2199-7268 

Published by:  G├Âttingen University Press, G├Âttingen, Germany.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Published Article: Mapping the ‘Anthropocentric-ecocentric’ Dualism in the History of American Presidency: The Good, the Bad, and the Ambivalent

  • Bakari, M. E. K. (2016). Mapping the ‘Anthropocentric-Ecocentric’ Dualism in the History of American Presidency: the Good, the Bad, and the Ambivalent. Journal of Studies in Social Sciences 14(2), 191-233.

Author: Dr. Mohamed Elkamel Bakari


This article examines the way the ‘anthropocentric-ecocentric’ dualism has come to bear on the history of the American presidency since the turn of the century, with special focus on three American Presidents, namely Theodore Roosevelt, Ronald Reagan, and Barack Obama. The major argument in this paper is that this duality constitutes not only a philosophical divergence of views, but also a determinant factor that has guided the beliefs, decisions, and policies of American presidents over more than a century. On account of their contradictory environmental records, both Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan are believed to stand for the two extremes of an ‘anthropocentrism-ecocentrism’ spectrum while Barack Obama ambivalently oscillates in the middle. Coming to power with different, sometimes conflicting, agendas, Presidents Roosevelt, Reagan, and Obama used the presidency as a bully pulpit to implement their ideological vision of nature, the environment, and economic growth in line with either ‘ecocentrism’ or ‘anthropocentrism.’ Spotlighting both their rhetoric and policies, this article delineates the three presidents’ differentiation along the ‘anthropocentric-ecocentric’ continuum and discusses the divergence of their respective political and philosophical beliefs as well as their concomitant implementation strategies. Ultimately, mapping the ‘anthropocentric-ecocentric’ dualism in the history of American presidency provides a valuable insight into how this divide has been transferred from the philosophical realm to the political one.

Citation info:

Bakari, M. E. K. (2016). Mapping the ‘Anthropocentric-Ecocentric’ Dualism in the History of American Presidency: the Good, the Bad, and the Ambivalent. Journal of Studies in Social Sciences 14(2), 191-233.

Accessible at:

Friday, April 24, 2015

Published Article: Sustainable Development in a Global Context: A Success or a Nuisance?

Bakari, M. E. K. (2015). New Global Studies 9(1), 27–56.

© Copyright 2015 the authors: 1

Mohamed El-Kamel Bakari *

* PhD in American Studies from the University of Manouba, Tunis, Tunisia, now seconded to King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, KSA.


This article argues that the evolution of, and challenges to, sustainable development cannot be understood completely outside its contemporary global context, consisting mainly of three interconnected spheres, i.e., the global governance system, the North-South debate, and global trade liberalization. As the boundaries of these three spheres get more and more blurred in a context of an intensifying globalization, the project of sustainable development is very often faced with obstacles that set back its evolution and might very well bring it to a halt. Above all, sustainable development is now caught in the crossfire between the push for exponential economic growth, on the one hand, and a compelling need to reverse catastrophic ecological threats and social exigencies, on the other. More often than not, the current structure and scope of global governance constitutes more of a hindrance than a help to the emerging paradigm of sustainable development. Accordingly, this article seeks to pinpoint the different challenges to the implementation of sustainable development in the field of global governance and to discuss to what extent these challenges are inherent in the structure and scope of this system. In a similar vein, this article examines and discusses the challenges to sustainability within two other highly interrelated spheres, namely global trade and the North-South politics. With this end in view, a special focus is placed throughout this paper on the interconnectedness of, and overlap between, these three global spheres and the determinant role played by the major actors therein.

Keywords: sustainable developmentglobal governance systemglobal tradeNorth-South divide
Citation Information: New Global Studies. Volume 9, Issue 1, Pages 27–56, ISSN (Online) 1940-0004, ISSN (Print) 2194-6566, DOI: 10.1515/ngs-2014-0003March 2015
Read the article in New Global Studies Journal

Friday, January 16, 2015

Published Article: Sustainability and Contemporary Man-Nature Divide: Aspects of Conflict, Alienation, and Beyond

Bakari, M. E. (2014). Consilience: The Journal of Sustainable Development
13(1), 125-146.

© Copyright 2014, the authors: 1

Mohamed El-Kamel Bakari *

*(PhD in American Studies), University of Mannouba, and a published researcher in Globalization and Sustainable Development Studies.

The rise of modern capitalism, which is based largely on Enlightenment thinking and the primacy of exponential economic growth, has usually been considered the starting point of environmental degradation and the abuse of nature. Post-industrial societies, therefore, have been characterized by a disturbed environment-society relationship manifesting itself as ecological disasters as well as the prevailing instrumental view of nature under the current neoliberal capitalist paradigm of development. Using this framework, this article aims to discuss whether or not the current environment-society relationship is wholly at odds with the holistic view of nature within the sustainability discourse. Some important features of globalization, such as ‘time-space distanciation,’ rising ‘corporatism,’ and ‘global consumerism’, are also relevant to this discussion. Special emphasis is placed on the increasingly conspicuous aspects of human alienation from nature within modern societies as well as the concomitant social and cultural dislocations that the lingering Man-Nature divide has engendered. Ultimately, the potential of new initiatives to bridge this divide and promote sustainability is highlighted and research questions are thrown up for further scholarly investigation.

Keywords: Sustainability, sustainable development, consumerism, man-nature divide, alienation, ecologism.

Article's official link:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Inception of the Concept of Sustainable Development: An Overview

Though some of the first local environmental organizations in the US were founded before the Civil War, the environmental movement only gathered momentum around the turn of the 19th century. The first decades of the 20th century witnessed growing concerns about the over-exploitation of natural resources and the process of industrialization, which led to the creation of the ‘Conservation Movement.’ With multiple discourses on ‘conservation,’ ‘preservation,’ and  deep ecology, the American environmental movement has become all the more diverse and popular ever since. Nevertheless, throughout its successive phases from the 1970s up to now, this movement has undergone important changes that have significantly broadened its agenda from mere demands for the protection of the environment to a whole re-conceptualization of the current model of growth. This movement has also grown into one of the largest social movements in the US today with over 6000 national and 20,000 local environmental organizations, along with an estimated 30 million members. With the popularization of the concept of ‘sustainable development’ during the 1980s and 1990s, the agenda of this movement grew global. Throughout the different phases of its evolution, this movement has significantly marked modern American history as academic studies of its structure and evolution have become a hot topic in American studies. Hence, the field of sustainable development has become closely intertwined with American studies given that the seeds of the environmental movement date back to the era of ‘conservationism’ in the early 20th century America and were consolidated in the 1960s and 1970s in the U.S. before the movement grew global.
Whether today’s socio-economic paradigm of development is able to handle a whole range of new environmental, social, and developmental challenges constitutes the subject of endless debates at the global scale today. In fact, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the different initiatives in recent years to establish new approaches to development that aim at curbing and reversing environmental degradation and  attempt to be more responsive to the social and cultural needs of people in both the developed and developing countries. Some of these attempts were triggered by a surge in public awareness of the negative environmental consequences of continuous economic growth and the high rates of consumption in the developed countries.
The same period also witnessed a noticeable prominence of the environmental issue on the global agenda following some important post-WWII geo-political changes such as the ebbing of the Cold War, thus creating more room for cooperation between the two superpowers. In the US, the post-WWII period also witnessed the proliferation of environmentally informed writings that criticized the abuse of the environment. These writings include Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962), Charles A. Reich’s The Greening of America (1970), Theodore Roszak’s Making of a Counter Culture (1969) and Where the Wasteland Ends (1972), and E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful (1973), among others.

Many of these American writers pointed to the the rise of neo-liberal capitalism, based largely on free market policies and the primacy of economic growth, as the starting point of environmental degradation. Their concerns were substantiated by the publication of The Limits to Growth in 1972 which was a scientific exploratory report that highlighted the urgent need for adjusting current rates of economic and population growth to the carrying capacity of the earth. This report triggered also a heated debate between neoliberal economists who contended that the solutions for environmental problems necessitated more economic growth, and other economists who argued that unfettered economic growth and sustainable development had mutually exclusive goals. In 1987, the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) published its first report, Our Common Future, also popularly known as the Brundtland Report, setting forth what has come to be the official, UN-sponsored definition of sustainable development. Ever since that date, the project of sustainable development has become part and parcel of global environmental politics thanks mainly to the popularization it has received from activists and NGOs.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Published Article: Sustainability’s Inner Conflicts: From ‘Ecologism’ to ‘Ecological Modernization’

Bakari, M.E. (2014). Journal of Sustainable Development Studies 6(1), 1-28.

© Copyright 2014 the authors: 1

Mohamed El-Kamel Bakari *

* Department of English Language, Literature and Civilization, the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Humanities, the University of Manouba, Tunis, Tunisia.


Ever since its inception, the project of sustainable development has constituted a challenge to deeply entrenched political, economic, and social beliefs in modern societies. Now matured, the project seems to be highly incompatible with the predominant neoliberal capitalist economic system, constitutes a nuisance to the structure of global governance, and is a noticeably controversial issue in North-South politics. However, the project itself was born out of a conflict between two opposing needs – the need for continuous economic growth on the one hand, and the need to protect the environment and achieve intra-generational and intergenerational social equity, on the other. This article argues that reconciling the needs for economic growth with concerns for the environment has been a very intricate and thorny process, hence the controversy over sustainable development’s definition, aims, and feasibility. By categorizing, examining, and analyzing sustainable development’s inner conflicts, this articles aims at achieving a deeper understanding of today’s sustainability stalemate and potential ways to overcome it. A special focus is placed on the implications of the recent prominence of ecological modernization, especially in the developed countries, on the evolution and integrity sustainable development.

Keywords: sustainable development, inner conflicts, sustainability, ecological modernization, ecologism.

*Read the complete article here:  Journal of Sustainable Development Studies

Published Article: Globalization and Sustainable Development: False Twins?

Bakari, M. E. (2013). New Global Studies 7(3), 23–56.

© Copyright 2013 the authors: 1

Mohamed El-Kamel Bakari*


 Ideologically, the two projects of globalization and sustainable development are informed by totally different sets of principles and values. This article launches a thorough conceptual and theoretical juxtaposition of these two projects, which shows that these two phenomena overlap structurally but diverge ideologically on a number of economic, social, and ecological issues. In essence, the juxtaposition of globalization and sustainable development provides an illuminating insight into the structural affinity as well as the subsequent potential clashes between the two. This article examines the different aspects of affinity between these two projects, analyses the most significant differences and contradictions between the two, and discusses potential solutions to harness globalization forces to sustainability. By conducting such a critical comparative analysis of these two projects, a deeper insight is gained with regard to any potential that would make them mutually supportive rather than mutually exclusive.

Keywords: globalization, neo-liberalism, sustainable development, incompatibility, reconciliation

*Corresponding author:

 Mohamed El-Kamel Bakari, Department of English Language, Literature
and Civilization, the Faculty of Letters, Arts and Human Sciences, The University of Mannouba,
Tunis, Tunisia.

Read the article in New Global Studies Journal