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Recognition and Ecological Theology

Panu Pihkala
Published Online: 2016-10-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2016-0071


This article explores the possibilities offered by theories of recognition and identity politics for a better understanding of religious – in this case, Christian – environmentalism. Insights related to recognition are gleaned from literature in ecological theology. Themes for further research and possibilities for practical adaptation are explored. It is argued that theories of recognition help to understand the dynamics related to processes where a certain group asks for more recognition of nature. Identity questions and developments in environmentalism are clarified by an understanding of what happens when partial recognition is granted. The role of mutuality as a basis for recognition is widened by Arto Laitinen’s proposal for recognition as “adequate regard” for something, i.e. for an ecosystem. The complex relations between humans and non-human nature are explored through such themes as reciprocity and the question of “voices” of nature. Creaturely difference and the role of seeing a “face” in nature are discussed in relation to recognition. The significance of place and environmental conditions for recognition are probed. Special attention is given to Andrew Dobson’s application of Nancy Frazer’s theory of transformative recognition to environmental matters, which offers new ways of understanding the role of non-human nature in politics, ethics and discussions on justice.

Keywords: environment; religion and nature; adequate regard; animal rights; justice


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About the article

Received: 2016-07-29

Accepted: 2016-09-28

Published Online: 2016-10-17

Citation Information: Open Theology, Volume 2, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2016-0071.

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©2016 Panu Pihkala. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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