The Subalternization of a Progressive Legal Project: The Rights of Nature in Ecuador

Laura Nieto Sanabria


In this note, the author uses the categories of subalternity and hegemony, proposed by Antonio Gramsci, in order to analyze the political process that emerged with the proclamation of the Rights of Nature in the Constitution of Montecristi, the new Constitution of Ecuador that came into existence in 2008. Out of the understanding that every legislative process arises from a political project within a historical bloc with specific interactions between forces, the Alianza País political project has searched for new ways of approaching the human-nature relationship through the “Revolución Ciudadana” in order to avoid the exploitation and commercialization of nature. Nonetheless, the Rights of Nature initiative has received much criticism from many fields: 1) the false distinction between nature and humanity; 2) the change from an obligation to take care of nature to rights of nature as a neoliberal danger; 3) the supposed liberation of nature within liberal market thinking. For that matter, the Rights of Nature can be understood as a political project that has been subalternized by the hegemonic political project within ecological thinking that goes hand-inhand with neoliberal politics, the so-called Green Economy. This hegemonic project in the ecological field is working towards the continuance of the exploitation and commercialization of nature and has become more powerful than the Rights of Nature initiative by using it to give entrance to green neoliberal projects in Ecuador.

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