Sunday, September 27, 2015

A jolt of environmental justice

What are the top forty environmental justice cases in U.S. history in terms of media attention, litigation, policy shifts and public opinion?  

You can read the list and learn about how we made it by reading an article published by Bernadette Grafton, Alejandro Colsa Perez, Katherine Hintzen, Sara Orvis, Paul Mohai and myself in the journal Politics, Groups, and Identities available at Taylor & Francis Online.   We produced this recently published work with a diverse team of masters students in deep dialogue with activists and practitioners who have created this field and taken it to where it is today. 

Interested? There are several ways to learn more. Take a look at the website for the pioneering EJOLT project that set us on this path, and look out for a forthcoming article in Environmental Research Letters that goes into more depth on our interviews with leaders in the EJ field.  Or take a look at the start and end of the videos here (and below) from a panel on gender and environmental justice at the Environmental Justice Symposium hosted at Purdue University in April 2014 where I spoke alongside three remarkable experts:  Laura ZanottiSharlene Mollett, and Rosemary Ahtuangaruak   

Following Rosemary's lead in beginning by thinking about our mothers, I reflected on gender inequalities in my own family, and also in field sites and institutions within which  I have learned and worked. Rosemary's words helped me think about the ways our research only scratches the surface of EJ in the USA, in terms of types of conflicts, who studies them, and ways of experiencing them that are mediated by gender and generational issues. More broadly, I argued against the feminization of "applied" versus basic research, and of collaborative versus solo authored work in many fields. 


This recent publication affirms the potential of unabashedly "applied" and "collaborative" research, whether in the forests of the Central African Republic with foragers and engaged anthropologists like Melissa Remis and her students, or online with maps and networks about inequality and environmental rights with visionaries like Joan Martinez AlierPaul Mohai, and these young professionals. These are not just two different "sites" from which my "lab" extracts "data." These are places I where I have apprenticed. Gender specialized labor in forest foraging has taught me much about how to engage in balanced reciprocity in my collaborations with others, and how to navigate the academic forest, with its seasonality, its bounty, and also its dangers.


As for current transnational unfurling of the EJ banner, there is a strong need for further research, and it is voiced powerfully by Rosemary, in this earnest question and answer session  on Africa, Amazonia, Panama and the Arctic. The entire group at Purdue's EJ symposium was stellar; you can get a sense by reading the special issue of the journal, or watching the videos, recorded for live feed (or "Boilercast"--no, really...listen to the Q and A sessions and you'll hear how that term rolls off the tongue!) 

Thanks  Boilermakers!

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