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Open access

Caste, Environment Justice, and Intersectionality of Dalit–Black Ecologies

Mukul Sharma

Abstract

Caste and race, Dalits and Black people, and the common ground between them have been analyzed in many areas, but their conjunction in the environmental field has been neglected. This article locates Dalit ecologies by examining the close connection between caste and nature. Drawing from a plural framework of environmental justice and histories of environmental struggles among African Americans, it focuses on historical and contemporary ecological struggles of Dalits. It contemplates how their initial articulations under the rubric of civil rights developed into significant struggles over issues of Dalit access, ownership, rights, and partnership regarding natural resources, where themes of environmental and social justice appeared at the forefront. The intersections between Dalit and Black ecologies, the rich legacies of Black Panthers and Dalit Panthers, and their overlaps in environmental struggles open for us a new historical archive, where Dalit and Black power can talk to each other in the environmental present.

Open access

A Flowering of Memory

Walking Zora Neale Hurston's Cemetery Path to our Mothers’ Gardens

James Jr. Padilioni

Abstract

In June 1945, Zora Neale Hurston wrote to W. E. B. Du Bois to propose a plan to create a Black cemetery to house the remains of famous Black Americans in Florida. Hurston suggested Florida because the state's climate guaranteed the cemetery would be verdant year-round, and she included a landscaping plan of the flowers and trees she desired to furnish her memorial garden. As an initiate of New Orleans Hoodoo-Vodou, Hurston's ontology of spirit allowed for the presence of the ancestors to indwell the living form of flowers, trees, and other topographical features of the land. I contextualize Hurston's cemetery within an extended genealogy of Black necrogeography and the study of Black American deathscapes, examining the entangled relationship of Black gardening and Black burial practices as engendering a distinct ecology of root-working in which Black women gardeners propagate new forms of life in the very dust of our decomposition.

Free access

Introduction

Global Black Ecologies

Justin Hosbey, Hilda Lloréns, and J. T. Roane

This collection derives from an ongoing experiment in thinking through and with the potential epistemic insurgency presented by our loose collective's working terminology, “Black ecologies.” This term moves from the resonances between the editors’ own research in New Orleans, Puerto Rico, and Virginia, respectively. Each of us considers from our different vantages the ecological consequences of slavery and its afterlives in the enduring regime of extractivism and disposability shaping Black communities in the Diaspora. This resonance has inspired us to collaborate in various formations, including a virtual dialogue about the environment for the People's Strike organization in July 2021, the Black Ecologies series at Black Perspectives, the virtual gathering hosted by the Black Ecologies Initiative at Arizona State University in Spring 2022, “Making Livable Worlds” (following co-editor Hilda Lloréns’ monograph title), and a zine publication, which have together added further integrity, meaning, and possibilities for thinking with this formulation outside a restrictive or proprietary vision for its potential.

Open access

Remote-Control Plantations and Black Forest Relations in the Black Belt

Danielle M. Purifoy

Abstract

This article examines the contemporary timber industry as a reproduction of plantation power via remote control, which occurs through absentee landowners, Black family land grabs, new markets for energy, and legal regimes designed to “devalue” common property in favor of individual ownership and profit-seeking productivity. Multi-generation Black homeplaces and communities possess alternative modes of land relations to sustain themselves despite the friction between the economic interests forced by racial capitalism and the ecological interests arising from long-standing forest interdependence. With the Alabama Black Belt and the larger US South experiencing expansion of concentrated forestland ownership and local divestment, most recently through the rise of the biomass industry, the reciprocal traditions of Black forest traditions represent modes of land relation and intervention that are necessary for livable futures.

Open access

Towards Dalit Ecologies

Indulata Prasad

Abstract

The caste system has implications for the environmental experiences of Dalits (formerly “untouchables”). Dalits are disproportionately impacted by natural disasters and climate change because of their high dependence on natural resources and manual labor, including agriculture. Dalit viewpoints and ecological expertise nevertheless remain missing from the environmental literature and mainstream activism. Aligning with Black ecologies as a challenge to eco-racism, I use the term “Dalit ecologies” to conceptualize Dalit articulations with their environment and experiences of eco-casteism involving inequities such as their exclusions from natural resources and high vulnerability to pollution and waste. My analysis of scholarly literature finds that nature is caste-ized through the ideology of Hindu Brahminism that animates mainstream environmental activism in India. Dalit subjectivities and agency nevertheless remain evident in their literary and oral narratives and ongoing struggles for access to land, water, and other environmental resources.

Open access

We All We Got

Urban Black Ecologies of Care and Mutual Aid

Ashanté M. Reese and Symone A. Johnson

Abstract

Urban ecologies are fraught with inequities, often resulting in humanitarian or charity solutions that emphasize lack rather than communities’ self-determination. While these inequities have been widely documented, the COVID-19 pandemic further reveals how these crises are not the sum result of individual failures. Rather, they are systemically produced through policies that harm people. How do Black urban residents contend with the sociohistorical antagonisms between feelings of scarcity (e.g., food and housing insecurity, underemployment, and financial strain) and aspirations for abundance? Using ethnographic encounters in Chicago and Austin we consider how practices of mutual aid are meaningful both spatially and affectively. First, we explore how mutual aid transforms “decaying” urban spaces to meet residents’ needs. Second, we explore felt experiences of mutuality in social relationships as distinct from authoritarian, charity-based relationality. Thinking these spatial and affective dimensions collectively, we work toward a framework of Black ecologies of care and mutual aid.

Restricted access

A Contemplative Approach in the Framework of Environmental Education

The Potential of Mindfulness

Irida Tsevreni

Abstract

This article investigates the potential of contemplative learning through mindfulness in the framework of environmental education. Human alienation from the rest of nature and the separation from the more-than-human others are approached under the lens of eco-phenomenology. Fifty undergraduate students at a Pedagogical Department experienced mindfulness techniques in natural places and reflected on their experiences. The research results revealed that mindfulness contributed to the sensorial and embodied experience of nature as well as to their interaction and participation in the more-than-human world. However, difficulties and challenges also emerged. Contemplative environmental learning could contribute to the healing of human alienation from the rest of nature and the establishment of an embodied, sensorial empathy for all living creatures.

Restricted access

The Coronavirus as Nature-Culture

Talking about Agency

Annette Schnabel and Bettina Ülpenich

Abstract

We analyze how the coronavirus is fabricated at the interface between science and the public in order to be addressable by political strategies. By means of a content analysis of Christian Drosten's podcasts, we follow (1) how SARS-CoV-2 is constructed in order to be understood by non-scientists, (2) how the specialist becomes a public expert, and (3) how this co-fabrication takes place. This provides insight into the “fabrication” of meaning and of how uncertainty is transformed into knowledge during times of major risk through focusing on the perception of the virus itself. Out of a perspective of speech act theory-informed assemblage thinking, the analysis emphasizes the role of the known-unknown and of the temporality of developments in formatting both virus and expert.

Restricted access

The Discursive Context of Forest in Land Use Documents

An Irish Case Study

Jodie Asselin, Gabriel Asselin, and Flavia Egli

Abstract

The term forest can signify many different physical realities. However, discourse analysis of Irish National and European Union forestry-related documents indicates ambiguity around this term is often cultivated rather than clarified. We argue here that policy language often embraces the multiple potential affordances within the term forest as a means of discursively bridging contradictions between economic and conservation goals. While this technique increases the readability and acceptability of such documents by diverse user groups and government bodies, it mutes the on-the-ground tensions of what forests mean for locals. Moreover, cultivating ambiguity favors the status quo through circumventing points of contradiction and shifting the work of interpretation and application of such documents to those on-the-ground, therefore perpetuating existing power differentials. As forests are central to resource management and responses to climate change, addressing this tendency is crucial to finding meaningful and place-specific environmental solutions.

Restricted access

Law Abiding Citizens

On Popular Support for the Illegal Killing of Wolves

Olve Krange, Erica von Essen, and Ketil Skogen

Abstract

Conflicts over wolf management are a stable feature of Norwegian public debate. In some segments of the population, nature management, and especially predator management, have a very low legitimacy. A strong expression of these controversies is the illegal killing of wolves, a practice sufficiently extensive to impact wolf population size. In several studies, the killing of wolves is interpreted as politically motivated resistance/crime of dissent. This study contributes to the research field by examining the support for such illegal actions. We ask if the Norwegian public find such illegal actions to be acceptable or not. Analysis shows that acceptance joins a broader pattern of controversies, expressed by phenomena such as xenophobia, climate change denial, anti-elitism, and low confidence in institutions working to preserve nature.