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Broadcasting Green: Grassroots Environmentalism on Muslim Women’s Radio

DeHanas, Daniel Nilsson (2009) Broadcasting Green: Grassroots Environmentalism on Muslim Women’s Radio. Sociological Review, 57 (Suppl2). pp. 141-155. (doi:10.1111/j.1467-954X.2010.01890.x) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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In 1967, Lynn White published a wide-ranging essay in Science arguing that the causes of the world’s ecological crises are, at their roots, spiritual. He wrote that Abrahamic thought has always been profoundly anthropocentric, beginning with the creation account in Genesis in which God gives humanity full dominion over the earth and over animals. According to White, Western Christianity and related traditions, such as Islam, have seen nature as instrumental to human needs. These branches of thought have therefore justified the exploitation of nature. White concluded that ‘[s]ince the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not’. Using St. Francis of Assisi as a model, White called for a re-envisioning of the modern human relationship with nature that reached to the depth of the soul. Though perhaps not quite what White had in mind, a religious reshaping of environmental ethics is at work in the West within some of its Muslim communities. In this paper I will investigate the particular case of the Muslim Community Radio (MCR, 87.8 FM) environmental broadcasting campaign in the East End of London during Autumn 2007. The radio campaign is an instance of a small but significant set of Muslim environmental collective action campaigns emerging in Britain. I focus the paper on the women’s radio programming during the MCR radio campaign. I argue that the women’s radio broadcasts were intended to ‘sacralize’ environmentalism in the minds of the female Muslim listening audience, imbuing environmental ethics with religious meaning. Though the primary overt discourse in the campaign was this sacralized environmentalism, I will also point out two underlying discourses: 1) The assertion that Islam is modern and compatible with selected western values and 2) the call for Muslim women to take up a carefully gender-structured community activism. Therefore, the radio campaign was in reality three simultaneous campaigns: for environmental activism, for the justification of Islam in modern Britain, and, in a more veiled form, for women’s empowerment. These interconnected layers of meaning reveal something of the complexity of concerns within Muslim communities in Britain. As I will argue in the conclusion, the case also contributes to our general understanding of religious influences on environmental behaviours and of the agentic role of women in sacralization processes in the modern West (Aune, Sharma and Vincett, 2008).

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1111/j.1467-954X.2010.01890.x
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: Mita Mondal
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2013 10:53 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 10:19 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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