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Dumpster Diving for a Better World

Explaining Unconventional Protest and Public Support for Actions against Food Waste

Benedikt Jahnke and Ulf Liebe

Food waste is a major challenge in affluent societies around the globe. Based on theories of protest and a mixed methods design combining qualitative, experimental, and survey research, we study the motives for, frequency of, and public support for dumpster diving in Germany. We find that dumpster diving as an unconventional daily protest action is related to more general protest against capitalist societies. It is motivated by both altruistic and egoistic concerns. The perceived legitimacy of violence and self-identity explain the frequency of dumpster diving. A factorial survey experiment with activists and the general public reveals strong similarities between the views of activists and those of other citizens in strong support of dumpster diving. This study demonstrates the usefulness of combining different empirical methods to study food activism.

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Not Lost but Found

Rebuilding Relations and Reclaiming Indigenous Food Systems

Keitlyn Alcantara

Gideon Mailer and Nicola Hale. 2019. Decolonizing the Diet: Nutrition, Immunity, and the Warning from Early America. New York: Anthem Press.

Gina Rae La Cerva. 2020. Feasting Wild: In Search of the Last Untamed Food. Berkeley, CA: Greystone Books.

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Peter M. Haswell

Overconsumption presents a major obstacle to social and environmental sustainability. Systemic social, legal, and economic strategies are absolutely necessary, but individuals are still accountable for their lifestyle choices and associated environmental footprints. Anti-consumption (rejection, reduction, reclamation) has its limitations, but could contribute to pro-environmental change, helping resolve biodiversity and climate crises. Regardless of societal consumption patterns, individuals can still make great gains in well-being and personal development by upholding their environmental and social values, minimizing personal resource consumption. Challenging the cultural norms of overconsumption requires individuals to employ mental fortitude in attempts to act justly toward the entire community of life. As a species, given our rational capabilities and ability to meet our basic needs, we are highly capable of bettering ourselves and our environment.

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Toying with Animism

How Learning to Play Might Help Us Get Serious About the Environment

Timothy Stacey

Scholars increasingly stress that getting serious about the environment will require a shift from Abrahamic and naturalist imaginaries that distinguish between culture and nature to, variously, “ecospirituality,” “dark green religion,” or animism. The first part of this article critiques this work on the grounds that it reifies rigid distinctions between “belief systems” or “ontologies,” and thus misrepresents both what needs to be aimed at and how to get there. In search of an alternative, the next two parts of this article draw on autoethnographic findings with non-Indigenous people involved in resisting resource extraction. I suggest that playfulness is an important component both of the imaginaries to be found among resisters and of the means of arriving at those imaginaries.

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Na Li

This article starts out from looking at what is missing from environmental history in China today, and then goes on to ask a particular set of questions: How does one interpret environmental history with the public? How does one present environmental history in public space? How does one engage with an environmentally conscious public? And ultimately, is it possible to establish public environmental history as a new mode of knowledge? In answer to these questions, it focuses on relationships, including the relationships between nature and culture, the environment and people, and history and memory. Using the dredging history of West Lake in Hangzhou as an illustrative case, it explores nature as material culture, calls attention to the rhetorical power of nature, and argues that environmental history should be interpreted and presented as public memory.

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Néstor L. Silva

Abstract

Literature on petroleum and its toxicities understands both as simultaneously social and ecological. Beginning with scholarship on petroleum and its toxicity that captures that simultaneity and mutual constitution, this review defines petrotoxicity as the socioecological toxicity inherent in petroleum commodification. The term signals that petroleum's social and ecological toxicities are not merely related, but always/already interdependent and inherent in petroleum commodification. Thinking about petrotoxicity this way frames it as something similar to repressive and ideological apparatuses. Althusserian apparatuses shape subjects and spaces in violent and bureaucratic ways. Generating and resisting petrotoxic apparatuses are consistent themes of literature on petrotoxicity. Thinking with Stuart Hall's critique of Louis Althusser, this review concludes by highlighting scholarship showing the limits of this popular framing of power, ecology, and intervention vis-à-vis petroleum. Long-term fieldwork in North Dakota's Bakken region informs this article at various points.

Open access

Natalie Bump Vena, Paige Dawson, Thomas De Pree, Sarah Hitchner, George Holmes, Sudarshan R Kottai, Daniel J Murphy, Susan Paulson, Victoria C. Ramenzoni, and Kathleen Smythe

Langston, Nancy. 2017. Sustaining Lake Superior: An Extraordinary Lake in a Changing World. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. 292 pp. ISBN 978-0-300-21298-3.

Moore, Margaret. 2019. Who Should Own Natural Resources? Cambridge, MA: Polity Press. 140 pp. ISBN 978-1-509-52916-2

Middleton Manning, Beth Rose. 2018. Upstream: Trust Lands and Power on the Feather River. Tucson: University of Arizona Press. 244 pp. ISBN 978-0-8165-3514-9.

Van de Graaf, Thijs, and Benjamin K. Sovacool. 2020. Global Energy Politics. Cambridge: Polity Press. ISBN 978-1-5095-3048-9.

Wapner, Paul. 2020. Is Wildness Over? Cambridge, MA: Polity Press. ISBN 978-1-5095-3212-4.

DeSombre, Elizabeth R. 2020. What Is Environmental Politics? Cambridge: Polity Press. 202 pp. ISBN 978-1-5095-3413-5.

Ptáčková, Jarmila. 2020. Exile from Grasslands: Tibetan Herders and Chinese Development Projects. Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN: 978-0-295-74819-1

Liegey, Vincent, and Anitra Nelson. 2020. Exploring Degrowth: A Critical Guide. London: Pluto Press. 224 pp. ISBN 978-0-7453-4201-6

Behringer, Wolfgang. 2019. Tambora and the Year without a Summer: How a Volcano Plunged the World into Crisis. Medford, MA: Polity Press. 334 pp. ISBN 978-1-509-52549-2.

Duvall, Chris S. 2019. The African Roots of Marijuana. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. 351 pp. ISBN 978-1-4780-0394-6.

Open access

Liza Grandia

Abstract

Alongside the melting of glaciers, human bodies warn of another petrochemically driven planetary crisis. Much as climate science ignored the early warning observations of Indigenous peoples, the medical establishment has often dismissed the canaries struggling to survive in the mineshaft of modernity. In an aleatory Anthropocene, we know not for whom the toxicity will toll. While case studies of environmental justice remain essential, the privileged must also be jolted into understanding their own ontological precariousness (i.e., vulnerability) from toxicants pervasive in everyday life. Moving beyond “citizen science” with inspiration from feminist ethics of care and relational Indigenous epistemologies, I make a case for the extrasensory value of “canary science.” If managerial “risk” was the keyword of the profiteering twentieth century, a sense of shared vulnerability in the coronavirus era could help usher in the transitions needed for survival in this polluted world.

Open access

Chemical Agents

The Biopolitical Science of Toxicity

Melina Packer

Abstract

This article reviews interdisciplinary toxicity literature, building from Gerald E. Markowitz and David Rosner's “deceit and denial” and Phil Brown's “contested illnesses” to argue for a third, more critical analytic that I term “empire and empirics.” Deceit and denial pit corporate actors against antitoxins advocates, while contested illnesses highlight social movements. Empire and empirics center the role of imperialism in reproducing today's unevenly distributed toxic exposures. I find this third path the most generative because the products and the production of science—toxicants and toxicology—are situated in their sociohistorical, politico-economic, ecological, and affective contexts. Revealing the imperialist logics embedded into dominant onto-epistemology also illuminates alternative, liberatory pathways toward more environmentally just futures. I close with examples of “undisciplined” action research, highlighting scholar-practitioners who study toxicity with care and in nonhierarchical collaboration. While undisciplining is challenging, its potential for realizing environmental justice far outweighs the difficulties of doing science differently.

Open access

Brittany Kiessling and Keely Maxwell

Abstract

Our article analyzes interdisciplinary literature within the social sciences on outcomes of environmental cleanups at Superfund, brownfield, and other contaminated sites. By focusing on postremediation sites and outcomes, we expand the understanding of the sociopolitical life of contaminated sites over time. First, we examine the technoscientific practices of how scientists and environmental managers seek to make cleanup outcomes legible and meaningful. Next, we engage with a wider array of literature on pollution/toxicity, uncovering circular temporalities in cleanup processes along with continuities in pollution/toxicity and in political struggle. Finally, we examine the social worlds of postremediation landscapes, drawing attention to how cleanups create new relationships among people, history, and nature. In conclusion, we identify areas of opportunity for these insights to inform the conceptualization and evaluation of cleanup outcomes in ways that better incorporate the complex dynamics of postremediation social worlds.