Beyond protection, toward respect: struggle for environmental justice in the Kendeng Mountains

Kunz, Yvonne / Jonas Hein / Mokh Sobirin
Externe Publikationen (2023)

in: Society and Natural Resources, first published 15.10.2023


The cement industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than international air traffic, it takes up massive amounts of water and energy in the production process and creates highly destructive stone pit mines. The case we are presenting here stands for a complex transnational struggle for environmental justice involving the indigenous Sedelur Sikep community and a subsidiary of the German HeidelbergCement AG linking the Javanese lime stone landscapes of the Kendeng mountains with nodes of decision-making in Jakarta and Germany. The Kendeng mountains on the island of Java are important sites of social and cultural reproduction for the Sedelur Sikep, providing important ecosystem services. The community rejects the market economy and in particular the trading of products they have not produced themselves. Their practices have contributed to the conservation of this biodiversity rich landscapes for centuries. The plans of the HeidelbergCement AG to construct a cement factory raises concerns among the Sedelur Sikep. The group worries that the factory and the stone pit mine alter the hydrological cycle affecting their wet-rice fields and ultimately their lifestyles. Despite protests by Sedelur Sikep and allied conservation and human-rights organizations, the subsidiary of Heidelberg Cement AG hold son to its plans, referring to a completed environmental impact assessment and related permits.Building on the concepts of environmental justice and epistemic justice, we investigate how the Sedelur Sikep, together with conservation and human-rights organizations have (so far) successfully prevented the construction of the cement factory by challenging the procedural aspects of the permit process, stressing their role as indigenous communities and by challenging dominant forms of knowledge production used in environmental impact assessments. We show how successful resistance is organized employing the mainstream nature conservation narrative. We also show that the employment of different knowledge system is part of a strategy, while the groups own understanding of respecting and living with the mountain goes beyond this mainstream narrative.

Über den Autor

Hein, Jonas



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