Echoes from the Poisoned Well

Echoes from the Poisoned Well : Global Memories of Environmental Injustice

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The emerging environmental justice movement has created greater awareness among scholars that communities from all over the world suffer from similar environmental inequalities. This volume takes up the challenge of linking the focussed campaigns and insights from African American campaigns for environmental justice with the perspectives of this global group of environmentally marginalized groups. The editorial team has drawn on Washington's work, on Paul Rosier's study of Native American environmentalism, and on Heather Goodall's work with Indigenous Australians to seek out wider perspectives on the relationships between memories of injustice and demands for environmental justice in the global arena. This collection contributes to environmental historiography by providing "bottom up" environmental histories in a field which so far has mostly emphasized a "top down" perspective, in which the voices of those most heavily burdened by environmental degradation are often ignored. The essays here serve as a modest step in filling this lacuna in environmental history by providing the viewpoints of peoples and of indigenous communities which traditionally have been neglected while linking them to a global context of environmental activism and education. Scholars of environmental justice, as much as the activists in their respective struggle, face challenges in working comparatively to locate the differences between local struggles as well as to celebrate their common ground. In this sense, the chapters in this book represent the opening up of spaces for future conversations rather than any simple ending to the discussion. The contributions, however, reflect growing awareness of that common ground and a rising need to employ linked experiences and strategies in combating environmental injustice on a global scale, in part by mimicking the technology and tools employed by global corporations that endanger the environmental integrity of a diverse set of homelands and ecologies.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 458 pages
  • 154.9 x 226.1 x 40.6mm | 680.4g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 073910912X
  • 9780739109120

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Author Information

Sylvia Hood Washington teaches environmental ethics and environmental justice at Depaul University and African American history at the University of Maryland, University College. She sits on the University of Illinois-Chicago's Environmental Justice board and directs the national project on Environmental Justice and Environmental Health co-sponsored by the Knights of Peter Claver, Inc. and the USCCB's Catholic Coalition for Children and a Safe Environment (CASE). Heather Goodall is associate professor in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Technology Sydney. Paul C. Rosier is assistant professor of history at Villanova University.

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Review quote

This bold and broad-ranging book presents the pan-global phenomenon of environmental injustice from an historical perspective for the first time. In a volume of well-written and sophisticated analyses, expert authors explore the roots and effects of environmental inequity in societies as different as Finland, Zimbabwe, Australia, Martinique, Taiwan, and the United States. Covering a diversity of urban and rural communities in the developing and developed world, periphery and metropole, indigenous and academic voices are finely balanced. This ambitious collection is innovative in including wide variety and different scales of environmental impacts, including forestry, mining, housing and industrial development, water supply, the effects of pollution and much else. This thought-provoking and instructive book with its interesting mix of perspectives will have wide appeal. -- Professor Jane Carruthers, University of South Africa For scholars and activists alike, there is no more important task than to connect issues of environmental quality and degradation with the history of power and injustice. By inviting us to connect theory with practice, memory with history, and the local with the global, this volume illuminates the depth, complexity, and urgency of contemporary struggles for environmental justice. These essays help us think our way toward a better understanding of the past, while guiding us toward a more hopeful future. -- Linda Nash, University of Washington Work on environmental justice is a cutting edge area of scholarship in environmental studies. This edited book contributes to the new genre with its own distinctive take. It combines studies of the African-American environmental justice tradition - the best-known type - with consideration of class and gender issues and highlights research on indigenous peoples. It defines environmental justice broadly to include its basis in dispossession of land. Through a comparative dimension and inclusion of a wide range of essays, the book allows us to move beyond a North American focus to a variety of colonial environments in which indigenous issues can be explored. A timely and thought-provoking collection. -- Ian Tyrrell, University of New South Wales These moving stories compel us to think about two interrelated questions: Why do societies seem perenially to require necessary victims? And, why have we proven unable to rein in our limitless, even mindless, lust for growth and gain, especially in light of the human costs? Either we heed the Echoes from the Poisoned Well or we will all soon drink its deadly draught. -- Douglas R. Weiner This immensely valuable and unprecedented collection demonstrates clearly that decisions to use the environment, and actions that abuse the environment, are too often decisions and actions that use and abuse people. The book ranges energetically across place and time to expose and explore that deeply human side of environmental issues, blending historical perspective with international relevance and sharp local topicality. And it points to the sorts of intellectual and practical capacities needed to deal with environmental injustice. -- Dr. Steve Dovers, Australian National University

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