Challenging Harmony to Save Nature? Environmental Activism and Ethics in Taiwan and Japan
To save nature, environmental activists in Taiwan and Japan are willing to change their behavior and society itself, challenging “harmony” in their communities. This paper explores the tension between globally relevant environmental activism and localized cultural traditions. A wide-encompassing understanding of environmental activism is proposed, based on a tentative typology of different positions regarding environmental sustainability. This paper follows some environmental activists’ journey to moral protest, through semi-structured interviews and participatory observation conducted between 2015 and 2019. It then discusses the results in light of some traditions of thought in Taiwan and Japan. Interviewees often tell about an event in their life that triggered a moral shock and exacerbated their feeling of urgency. Activists’ sense of purpose motivates them to navigate psychological and social obstacles such as social disapproval and exclusion. They also tend to build a “community of activism” through social media to support each other and develop strategies.
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