Call for Panelists (ASEH 2018) Environmental Racism in Urban Environmental History

Josiah Rector's picture

My co-panelists and I are looking for a third paper for a panel entitled “Environmental Racism in Urban Environmental History" for the American Society for Environmental History conference in Riverside, California in March 2018. Our chair for this panel is Dr. Dianne Glave, author of Rooted in the Earth: Reclaiming the African American Environmental Heritage (Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2010), and the co-editor (with Mark Stoll) of To Love the Wind and the Rain: African Americans and Environmental History (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005).

While the phrase environmental racism only entered activist and academic discourse in the 1980s, a growing number of contemporary historians use it to interpret environmental inequalities in earlier eras. This tendency includes historians of wilderness and agrarian landscapes, but is perhaps most pronounced in urban environmental history. Major areas of inquiry remain unexplored or underexplored, however. For example, we still know little about the historical relationship between racial politics and environmental activism in many American cities and suburbs. We also know more about the role of racism and segregation in urban planning, and housing and labor markets, than in the infrastructures that supply metropolitan areas with water, energy, and other resources.

This panel will explore the following questions: How can the concepts of race and racism orient future historical research about metropolitan environments and environmental politics and activism in cities and suburbs? Can historians employ the concept of environmental racism while avoiding anachronism, taking seriously how historical actors understood the category of “race” in relation to non-human nature and the built environment?

If you are interested in contributing to this panel, please send an abstract with a paper title and brief bio by July 14 to Josiah Rector at Please note that panel proposals are due on July 14.

Josiah Rector

Wayne State University