Help with teaching materials - racialization & environmental justice

Susan Nance's picture

Hello all,

I teach an online environmental history course, 2nd year and mostly non-majors, that I need to freshen up. This fall I will revise a unit on the connections between racialization and environmental justice (or lack thereof). Do you have any recommendations of readings and/or videos that you've had especially good success with that gets at those issues, perhaps with a concise case study?

Also, if there an online archive of primary sources that would be good for students to use to do their own research on the topic?

Any help is much appreciated!

Susan Nance
Department of History  |  Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare
University of Guelph

Lindsey Dillon's case studies of Hunter's Point in San Francisco are great:

Dillon L (2015) War’s Remains: Slow Violence and the Urbanization of Military Bases in California. Environmental Justice 8(1): 1–5. DOI: 10.1089/env.2014.0014.x
Dillon, Lindsey. "Race, waste, and space: Brownfield redevelopment and environmental justice at the Hunters Point Shipyard." Antipode: A Radical Geography Journal 46, no. 5 (2014): 1205-1221.

There is also a lot of great new work on Indigenous environmental justice coming out that offers a different and complementary analysis to many of the foundational works that talk about Black and brown (Chicanx) racialization and environmental justice.

I recommend Hoover Elizabeth (2017) The River Is in Us: Fighting Toxics in a Mohawk Community. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

I have so many suggestions. But in an EJ course I teach (primarily non history majors, mixed level), I use Christopher W. Wells, ed., Environmental Justice in Postwar America: A Documentary Reader (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2018) as a primary source reader. It has most of the most relevant primary sources for U.S. EJ history including photos, poems, and statements by Black, brown, and indigenous folks. I also assign Wangari Maathai's Unbowed, and undergrads tend to love it (if they actually read it). As for online sources, I point my students to EJAtlas (which is global) and other EJ blogs or crowdsourced projects. There are tons of TedTalks, etc. by activists out there too.

In addition to Hoover's The River Is in Us, which is great and I assign to grad students, I would recommend taking a look at Gilio-Whitaker's As Long As Grass Grows.

I hope some of this works for you!

Here's a clip for a segment of a good documentary on Chester, PA called Laid to Waste.
Here's the whole documentary, which is worth watching

Exploring the issues of the 1991 people of color environmental leadership summit is important:
This site offers additional perspective.

paul rosier