Todd Eisenstadt is Professor of Government at American University. He has worked on six continents, publishing multiple award-winning books and dozens of articles. He studies development with research that focuses on democratization and environmental politics, as well as the relationship between constitution-making processes and democratization. Karleen West is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations at SUNY Geneseo. She researches how historically marginalized groups gain representation in Latin America and around the world. Her work has been published in the Latin American Research Review, Comparative Political Studies, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Comparative Politics, and Party Politics, among others.
Eisenstadt and West have given voice to many indigenous people in Ecuador's Amazon region to convey their own views about the environmental degradation human rights lawyers have helped try to stop for decades. Drawing on meticulously gathered evidence and a well-reasoned approachWho Speaks for Nature?concludes that people care about the environment when it is integral and pristine; once the environment is destroyed people concern themselves with problems derived from this degradation, such as public health hazards, unemployment, and migration. This is a finding many of us have suspected but which has never to my knowledge been shown, until now. * Mario Melo, Director of Center of Humans Rights, Pontifical Catholic University (PUCE) of Ecuador * This book masterfully tackles one of the most important issues of our time. The authors marshal forward a breathtaking and compelling mix of analyses of original survey data, insights from interviews, and case-specific details to demonstrate that those exposed to negative externalities that accompany resource extraction are often the most resolute advocates for the environment. Who Speaks for Nature? shifts the paradigm in political science from a focus on education, wealth, values, and indigeneity to a focus on direct exposure to environmental vulnerability and the potential for broad-ranging coalitions of ordinary individuals to exert a powerful influence over future policy initiatives. * Elizabeth Zechmeister, Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Political Science, Vanderbilt University * Who Speaks for Nature is a landmark study of the cultural, political, and economic dimensions of environmental conflicts in the Andean and Amazonian regions of South America. Eisenstadt and West skillfully demonstrate how local vulnerabilities to oil and mineral extraction shape public attitudes toward the environment and varied civil society efforts to protect livelihoods and communities. This book offers unparalleled insights into the clash of interests and values between extractivist models of development and an ethos of environmental rights. * Kenneth Roberts, Richard J. Schwartz Professor of Government and Director of Latin American Studies, Cornell University * Who Speaks for Nature? is a groundbreaking book on environmental activism, attitudes about the environment, and indigenous political behavior. Using an unprecedented national survey from Ecuador, the authors directly compare individual and group behaviors. They find, contrary to conventional wisdom, that individuals' perceptions of environmental vulnerability are more relevant than ethnic identities or post-material values.This is an exceptional example of research that takes individuals seriously, as well as the context in which they live. In the process, the authors of this innovative study identify the vital agency of actors experiencing great environmental vulnerability, especially on the front lines of extractive conflicts and climate change. * Carew Boulding, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Colorado-Boulder *