Environmental Justice Cultural Studies Bibliography
Below is an annotated list of some key texts that offer a variety of models of environmental justice cultural analysis. The list highlights works of environmental justice criticism of literature, film, television, and other cultural media, stressing work that treats intersections of race, class, gender, sexuality, colonialism and "nature."
At the bottom of the page there are additional links to other bibliographies on environmental justice, environmental history, and mainstream ecocriticism.
- Sarah Jaquette Ray. The Ecological Other: Environmental Exclusion in American Culture. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2013.
Ray investigates some of the ugly underside of early environmentalism, including eugenics. She concentrates on three categories of ecological otherness: people with disabilities, immigrants, and Native Americans. Extending recent work in environmental justice ecocriticism, Ray argues that the expression of environmental disgust toward certain kinds of bodies draws problematic lines between ecological “subjects”—those who are good for and belong in nature—and ecological “others”—those who are threats to or out of place in nature. Ultimately, The Ecological Other urges us to be more critical of how we use nature as a tool of social control and to be careful about the ways in which we construct our arguments to ensure its protection.
- Noël Sturgeon, Environmentalism in Popular Culture: Gender, Race, Sexuality, and the Politics of the Natural. Tuscon: University of Arizona Press, 2009.
- This is the first book to employ a global feminist environmental justice analysis to focus on how racial inequality, gendered patterns of work, and heteronormative ideas about the family are vitally related to environmental questions. Examining trends beginning in the late 1980s and continuing into the 21st century, Sturgeon unpacks a variety of cultural tropes, including ideas about Mother Nature, the purity of the natural, and the stereotyped close relationship of indigenous people with the natural world. She investigates the persistence of the colonizing “myth of the frontier” and its extension to the militarization of outer space. She ponders the popularity of penguins and the controversy surrounding “penguin family values,” and questions assumptions about human warfare as “natural.”
Sturgeon illustrates the myriad and insidious ways in which American popular culture depicts social inequities as “natural” and how our images of “nature” interfere with creating solutions to environmental problems that work and are fair for currently marginalized social groups. Why is it, she wonders, that environmentalist messages in popular culture so often “naturalize” themes of heroic male violence, white suburban nuclear family structures, and U.S. dominance in the world? And what do these patterns of thought mean for how we envision socially just environmental solutions to issues ranging from toxic dumping, nuclear waste, e-waste and climate change, to the creation of truly “green” businesses and the protection of endangered species?
- Dorceta Taylor. The Environment and the People in American Cities, 1600s-1900s. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2009.
- Taylor's already magnum opus (with two further volumes promised to bring her story up to the present) should forever revolutionize the fields of urban studies and environmental studies. By tracing the long, complex history of class, race and gender discrimination in urban planning, and industrial health and safety choices, Taylor brilliantly demonstrates the long backstory of environmental justice and expands the field in ways that will shape all subsequent work. Throwing new light on a host of issues from efforts to the alleviate urban poverty, sanitary reform and public health, safe, affordable, and adequate housing, parks, playgrounds, and green space, occupational health and safety;; consumer protection, and land use in urban planning, The Environment and the People over several centuries has extraordinary range, yet always clearly articulates how none of these issues has been separable from questions of gender and race, in addition to the more often considered dimension of class. The book is theoretically and methodologically sophisticated, empirically rich and accessibly written. All serious students of urban environments, public health, social policy, and environmental justice will need to take this work (and its sequel) into account.
- Adamson, Joni. American Indian Literature, Environmental Justice and Ecocriticism: The Middle Place. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001.
- The best sustained example yet of environmental justice ecocriticism, this book offers a rich, elegant set of stories woven into superb critical analysis of such writers as Edward Abbey, Sherman Alexie, Joy Harjo, Simon Ortiz, and Leslie Marmon Silko, among others. This groundbreaking work locates American Indian fiction, poetry, and culture in the contexts of native struggles around open-pit mines, uranium tailings, and other examples of economic and environmental degradation of reservation lands, and provides a much-needed, thoughtful and respectful challenge to the current theory and practice of ecocriticism.
- Adamson, Joni, Rachel Stein, and Mei Mei Evans,., eds.Environmental Justice: Politics/Poetics/Pedagogy. Tucson:: U of Arizona P, 2002.
- Excellent, wide-ranging anthology that has played a crucial role in the development of environmental justice cultural criticism and pedagogy.
Another Useful Bibliogaphic Link
- ASLE Environmental Justice Bibliographies
Includes a number of interesting perspectives on environmental justice and culture.