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Religion and spirituality in environmental direct action
Bronislaw Szerszynski
and
Emma Tomalin

This chapter introduces the environmental direct action movement, particularly developed in Britain for specific political and cultural reasons. It explores the tensions between the spiritual and the secular in this movement, in the context of a critique, broadly shared within the movement, of mainstream Western religion as hierarchical and ecologically malign. The chapter focuses on a detailed qualitative research regarding environmental direct activists in the 1990s. Environmental direct action shares with organised religion the characteristic of reflecting what Paul Tillich called the 'ultimate concern' of the individual. Whilst for some activists their ultimate concern is articulated in a secular way, for many others it is expressed in the language of spirituality, in terms of belief in the sacredness of the Earth or of love for the Mother Earth goddess. The chapter also explores the uses of the 'de-regulated religion' in three dimensions of direct action, namely beliefs, identity and action.

in Changing anarchism
Emma Tomalin
and
Olivia Wilkinson

This paper explores findings from research carried out alongside a humanitarian project called ‘Bridging the Gap (BtG): The Role of Local Faith Actors in Humanitarian Response in South Sudan’. BtG aimed to better understand the barriers that stand in the way of engagement between local faith actors (LFAs) and international humanitarians (IHs) and to introduce learning opportunities (e.g. training and workshops) to address these. We share perspectives from the LFAs who participated in this ‘localisation’ project about what it means to become ‘legitimate’ humanitarian actors that are recognised and trusted by the international system and why this is important for them, as well as what BtG tells us about the legitimacy of the international humanitarian system from the point of view of LFAs and LFAs’ legitimacy in the eyes of their local communities. We also reflect upon the ways in which the processes of NGO-isation and professionalisation that accompany this journey to become ‘legitimate’, can compromise and undervalue the very qualities that local actors are presumed to possess. This does not indicate the failure of the localisation agenda, but that bold action is needed to make localisation more inclusive in ways that might challenge some areas of humanitarian orthodoxy.

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs