Framing Environmental Justice: From American to Global Perspectives
University of Kansas
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This dissertation contests the idea that environmental justice discourse emerges solely from the United States. It creates dialogue between texts that represent a traditional American environmental justice frame and those that depict situations of environmental injustice outside of U.S. borders. It identifies eight coordinates that are crucial components of what can be considered environmental justice discourse. These characteristics become a rubric for establishing a traveling theory of environmental justice and include: issues of scale, types of knowledge and the institutions that produce it, anthropocentric and ecocentric perspectives, realist and constructivist representations, individual and societal responsibilities, identity constructions like race and class, particularist and totalizing representations, and genre considerations. Analysis of Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke, Ken Saro-Wiwa's A Month and a Day, Indra Sinha's Animal's People, and Amitav Ghosh's The Hungry Tide reveals that certain coordinates that comprise environmental justice discourse are more fraught than others. I focus on the role of the American activist as reader or character in the texts and how the authors emphasize the coordinates to varying degrees. I argue that the American figure's ideology transforms when she develops an environmental double-consciousness where she becomes aware of how she sees herself but also how others view her and her position in the world. The texts reveal that scalar considerations and the positions the texts take on types of knowledge and the institutions that produce it represent the greatest divergence among environmental justice representations and become crucial elements for differentiating the ways various genres and texts from different national contexts fulfill themselves as environmental justice discourse.
- Dissertations 
- English Dissertations and Theses 
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