Oral Presentation Session
Reviewed by: Anthropology and Environment Society
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists
Primary Theme: Environment and Environmental Inequality
Secondary Theme: Resistance
The Trump administration has proposed tremendous cuts to EPA’s environmental justice work-- in some cases nearly 80%-- gutting certain programs which sought to buffer industrial forms of pollution in low-income brown and black communities. This panel interrogates how these EPA cuts will disproportionately affect vulnerable communities across the US particularly in a moment of radical climate change and hyper-militaristic agendas. The gutting of the EPA has made it easier to dump coal mining waste in waterways, spew greenhouse gases into atmosphere and spray pesticides found to be damaging to brains of children. Further, in a moment of radical climate change, chemical zones (like Houston) will become ever more toxic in the aftermath of rising sea levels, hurricanes, and floods. This all-out war on the poor is a war long in the making (well before Trump rose to power). The current evisceration of the EPA budget simply exacerbates historic forms of inequity, from disinvestment in critical services and resources to the uneven distribution of environmental improvements. Moreover, the slow violence of environmental pollution and the fast violence of police brutality, all-out occupations and ID checks are flip sides of the same coin. Thus, this panel also connects uneven geographic development, environmental justice and toxicity to over-policing and police brutality in low-income communities of color. We call upon scholars to link theory to practice and to envision our work alongside those activists who are building movements and imagining sustainable futures.
More specifically, this panel brings together US-based Environmental Justice anthropologists and geographers and asks them to explore this political moment – unique as it is – from an historic perspective. In what ways has a long history of uneven geographic development that privileges few and endangers many, facilitated the formation of a political administration deeply antagonistic to environmental protection, science, and social justice in general. How does the current administration intersect with historic policies and practices that essentially consider certain communities (Native American, Black and Latino) to be disposable? What role can critical geographers and environmental justice anthropologists play in rethinking/reshaping urban and rural spaces today? In resisting green gentrification and other "green" initiatives tied to private capital and working to build alternatives? How can we identify and enumerate the links between environmental justice, police brutality, all-out occupations and ID check? In so doing, how can we help forge a broad-based movement for social change?