Environmental Racism and Environmental Injustice: Rights, Citizenship, and Activism (IDSEM-UG 2114)

How are environmental racism and environmental injustice related to belonging in—and exclusion from—local, national, and international communities? How do questions about citizenship, rights, and rightlessness relate to environmental racism and environmental injustice? This course addresses questions about how numerous forms of environmental racism and environmental injustice impact people’s access to their human rights—universally guaranteed in principle but so frequently inaccessible in reality. These questions have newfound urgency amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as marginalized communities already subjected to environmental repression have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Drawing on works from the realms of political theory, international law, literature, activism, and others, we will address relationships between race, class, gender, and environmental injustice. We will discuss fence-line communities. There are powerful connections between so-called “local” environmental injustice and the climate crisis—how are these connections overlooked by international law? We will focus on how communities of color, Indigenous communities, and stateless people are affected by and resist pollution inequity and differential access to healthcare. Historical and contemporary cases include denial of water access (e.g. Flint and Detroit, Michigan; the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza; and Cape Town, South Africa); forced exposure to toxins in armed conflict zones (ranging from the WWII bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to the Vietnam War, and the Iraq War); poisoning from industrial pollution (such as in Minamata, Japan in the 20th century); and international examples of lead poisoning. Scholars, novelists, poets, theorists, and practitioners whose work will be read and discussed may include: Robert D. Bullard, Rachel Carson, Steve Lerner, Harriet A. Washington, Walter Benjamin, Hannah Arendt, Seyla Benhabib, Benedict Anderson, Antony Anghie, Tōge Sankichi, Ghassan Kanafani, and Yoko Tawada.

Interdisciplinary Seminars (Undergraduate)
4 credits – 15 Weeks

Sections (Spring 2024)

IDSEM-UG 2114-000 (12502)
01/22/2024 – 05/06/2024 Tue
4:00 PM – 7:00 PM (Late afternoon)
at Washington Square
Instructed by Krakow, Carly