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Social Sciences > Geography
Stream Restoration, Neoliberalism, and the Future of Environmental Science
Stream restoration science and practice is in a startling state. The most widely respected expert in the field, Dave Rosgen, is a private consultant with relatively little formal scientific training. Since the mid-1990s, many academic and federal agency–based scientists have denounced Rosgen as a charlatan and a hack. Despite this, Rosgen’s Natural Channel Design approach, classification system, and short-course series are not only accepted but are viewed as more legitimate than academically produced knowledge and training. Rosgen’s methods are now promoted by federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, as well as by resource agencies in dozens of states.
Drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu, Lave demonstrates that the primary cause of Rosgen’s success is neither the method nor the man but is instead the assignment of a new legitimacy to scientific claims developed outside the academy, concurrent with academic scientists’ decreasing ability to defend their turf. What is at stake in the Rosgen wars, argues Lave, is not just the ecological health of our rivers and streams but the very future of environmental science.
Living Morally and Dying of Cancer in a Chinese Village
Numerous reports of “cancer villages” have appeared in the past decade in both Chinese and Western media, highlighting the downside of China’s economic development. Less generally known is how people experience and understand cancer in areas where there is no agreement on its cause. Who or what do they blame? How do they cope with its onset? Fighting for Breath is the first ethnography to offer a bottom-up account of how rural families strive to make sense of cancer and care for sufferers. It addresses crucial areas of concern such as health, development, morality, and social change in an effort to understand what is at stake in the contemporary Chinese countryside.
Encounters with cancer are instances in which social and moral fault lines may become visible. Anna Lora-Wainwright combines powerful narratives and critical engagement with an array of scholarly debates in sociocultural and medical anthropology and in the anthropology of China. The result is a moving exploration of the social inequities endemic to post-1949 China and the enduring rural-urban divide that continues to challenge social justice in the People’s Republic. In-depth case studies present villagers’ “fight for breath” as both a physical and social struggle to reclaim a moral life, ensure family and neighborly support, and critique the state for its uneven welfare provision. Lora-Wainwright depicts their suffering as lived experience, but also as embedded in domestic economies and in the commodification of care that has placed the burden on families and individuals.
Fighting for Breath will be of interest to students, teachers, and researchers in Chinese studies, sociocultural and medical anthropology, human geography, development studies, and the social study of medicine.
The Passionate Politics of Labor Organizing on the Mexican Frontera
The history of the maquiladoras has been punctuated by workers’ organized resistance to abysmal working and living conditions. Over years of involvement in such movements, Rosemary Hennessy was struck by an elusive but significant feature of these struggles: the extent to which organizing is driven by attachments of affection and antagonism, belief, betrayal, and identification.
What precisely is the “affective” dimension of organizing for justice? Are affects and emotions the same? And how can their value be calculated? Fires on the Border takes up these questions of labor and community organizing—its “affect-culture”—on Mexico’s northern border from the early 1970s to the present day. Through these campaigns, Hennessy illuminates the attachments and identifications that motivate people to act on behalf of one another and that bind them to a common cause. The book’s unsettling, even jarring, narratives bring together empirical and ethnographic accounts—of specific campaigns, the untold stories of gay and lesbian organizers, love and utopian longing—in concert with materialist theories of affect and the critical good sense of Mexican organizers.
Teasing out the integration of affect-culture in economic relations and cultural processes, Hennessy provides evidence that sexuality and gender as strong affect attractors are incorporated in the harvesting of surplus labor. At the same time, workers’ testimonies confirm that the capacities for bonding and affective attachment, far from being entirely at the service of capital, are at the very heart of social movements devoted to sustaining life.
Geography of a Revolution
This on-the-ground study of one square mile in Detroit was written in collaboration with neighborhood residents, many of whom were involved with the famous Detroit Geographical Expedition and Institute. Fitzgerald, at its core, is dedicated to understanding global phenomena through the intensive study of a small, local place.
Beginning with an 1816 encounter between the Ojibwa population and the neighborhood’s first surveyor, William Bunge examines the racialized imposition of local landscapes over the course of European American settlement. Historical events are firmly situated in space—a task Bunge accomplishes through liberal use of maps and frequent references to recognizable twentieth-century landmarks.
More than a work of historical geography, Fitzgerald is a political intervention. By 1967 the neighborhood was mostly African American; Black Power was ascendant; and Detroit would experience a major riot. Immersed in the daily life of the area, Bunge encouraged residents to tell their stories and to think about local politics in spatial terms. His desire to undertake a different sort of geography led him to create a work that was nothing like a typical work of social science. The jumble of text, maps, and images makes it a particularly urgent book—a major theoretical contribution to urban geography that is also a startling evocation of street-level Detroit during a turbulent era.
Fossil Traces of Coal-Age Tetrapods
Currently 2,500 miles from the equator and more than 250 miles north of the Gulf of Mexico, the Minkin site was a swampy tropical forest adjacent to a tidal flat during the Coal Age or Carboniferous Period more than 300 million years ago. That fecund strand of sand and mud at the ocean’s edge teemed with the earth’s earliest reptiles as well as amphibians, fish, horseshoe crabs, spiders, jumping insects, and other fascinating organisms. Unlike dinosaurs and other large animals whose sturdy bodies left hard fossil records, most of these small, soft-bodied creatures left no concrete remains. But they did leave something else. Preserved in the site’s coal beds along with insect wings and beautifully textured patterns of primeval plants are their footprints, fossilized animal tracks from which modern paleontologists can glean many valuable insights about their physical anatomies and behaviors.
The paleontological examination of fossil tracks is now the cutting-edge of contemporary scholarship, and the Minkin site is the first and largest site of its kind in eastern North America. Discovered by a local high school science teacher, the site provides both professional and amateur paleontologists around the world with a wealth of fossil track samples along with an inspirational story for amateur explorers and collectors.
Authoritative and extensively illustrated, Footprints in Stone brings together the contributions of many geologists and paleontologists who photographed, documented, and analyzed the Minkin site’s fossil trackways. An engrossing tale of its serendipitous discovery and a detailed study of its fossil records, Footprints in Stone is a landmark publication in the history of paleontology.
Geologists on Intelligent Design
According to the idea of intelligent design, nature's complexity is the result of deliberate planning by a supernatural creative force. To date, most scientific arguments against this form of creationism have been made by evolutionary biologists. In this volume, a team of earth scientists reveals that the flaws of intelligent design are not limited to the biological sciences. Indeed, the geological sciences offer some of the best refutations of intelligent design arguements. For the Rock Record is dedicated to the proposition that the idea of intelligent design should be of serious concern to everyone. Editors Jill S. Schneiderman and Warren D. Allmon have gathered leading figures from the geological community with a wide range of viewpoints that go to the heart of the debate over what is and is not science. The purveyors of intelligent design theories and its kindred philosophies threaten the scientific literacy that our society needs by confusing faith and the practice of science. This collection offers a much-needed response.
Environmental Themes for the Anthropocene
Found in Alberta: Environmental Themes for the Anthropocene is a collection of essays about the natural environment in a province rich in natural resources and aggressive in development goals. This is a casebook on Alberta from which emerges a far wider set of implications for North America and for the biosphere in general. The writers come from an array of disciplinary backgrounds within the environmental humanities.
The essays examine the oil/tar sands, climate change, provincial government policy, food production, industry practices, legal frameworks, wilderness spaces, hunting, Aboriginal perspectives, and nuclear power. Contributions from an ecocritical perspective provide insight into environmentally themed poetry, photography, and biography.
Since the actions of Alberta’s industries and government are currently at the heart of a global environmental debate, this collection is valuable to those wishing to understand the natural and commercial forces in play. The editors present an introductory argument that frames these interests inside a call for a rethinking of our assumptions about the natural world and our place within it.
Transnational Legal Action and Corporate Accountability
Through the experience of the Free Burma movement, John G. Dale demonstrates how social movements create and appropriate legal mechanisms for generating new transnational political opportunities. He presents three corporate accountability campaigns waged by the Free Burma movement. The cases focus on the legislation of “Free Burma” laws in local governments throughout the United States; the effort to force the state of California to de-charter Unocal Oil Corporation for its flagrant abuse of human rights; and the first-ever use of the U.S. Alien Tort Claims Act to sue a corporation in a U.S. court for human rights abuses committed abroad. Dale’s work also raises the issue of how foreign policies of so-called constructive engagement actually pose a threat to the hope of Burma’s activists—and others worldwide—for more democratic economic development.
Urban Mutations in Tanzania
The name Dar es Salaam comes from the Arabic phrase meaning house of peace. A popular but erroneous translation is ëhaven of peaceí resulting from a mix-up of the Arabic words "dar" (house) and "bandar" (harbour). Named in 1867 by the Sultan of Zanzibar, the town has for a long time benefitted from a reputation of being a place of tranquility. The tropical drowsiness is a comfort to the socialist poverty and under-equipment that causes an unending anxiety to reign over the town. Today, for the Tanzanian, the town has become Bongoland, that is, a place where survival is a matter of cunning and intelligence (bongo means ëbrainí in Kiswahili). Far from being an anecdote, this slide into toponomy records the mutations that affect the links that Tanzanians maintain with their principal city and the manner in which it represents them. This book takes into account the changes by departing from the hypothesis that they reveal a process of territorialisation. What are the processesóenvisaged as spatial investmentsówhich, by producing exclusivity, demarcations and exclusions, fragment the urban space and its social fabric? Do the practices and discussions of the urban dwellers construct limited spaces, appropriated, identified and managed by communities (in other words, territories)? Dar es Salaam is often described as a diversified, relatively homogenous and integrating place. However, is it not more appropriate to describe it as fragmented? As territorialisation can only occur through frequenting, management and localised investment, it is therefore through certain placesófirst shelter and residential area, then the school, daladala station, the fire hydrant and the quaysóthat the town is observed. This led to broach the question in the geographical sense of urban policy carried out since German colonisation to date. At the same time, the analysis of these developments allows for an evaluation of the role of the urban crisis and the responses it brings. In sum, the aim of this approach is to measure the impact of the uniqueness of the place on the current changes. On one hand, this is linked to its long-term insertion in the Swahili civilisation, and on the other, to its colonisation by Germany and later Britain and finally, to the singularity of the post-colonial path. This latter is marked by an alternation of Ujamaa with Structural Adjustment Plans applied since 1987. How does this remarkable political culture take part in the emerging city today? This book is a translation of De Dar es Salaam ‡ Bongoland: Mutations urbaines en Tanzanie, published by Karthala, Paris in 2006.
Pipeline Politics, Global Environmentalism, and Indigenous Rights in Bolivia
Drawing upon extensive interviews and document analysis, Hindery argues that many of the structural conditions created by neoliberal policies—including partial privatization of the oil and gas sector—still persist under Morales. Tactics employed by both Morales and his neoliberal predecessors utilize the rhetoric of environmental protection and Indigenous rights to justify oil, gas, mining, and road development in Indigenous territories and sensitive ecoregions.
Indigenous peoples, while mindful of gains made during Morales’s tenure, are increasingly dissatisfied with the administration’s development model, particularly when it infringes upon their right to self-determination. From Enron to Evo demonstrates their dynamic and pragmatic strategies to cope with development and adversity, while also advancing their own aims.
Offering a critique of both free-market piracy and the dilemmas of resource nationalism, this is a groundbreaking book for scholars, policy-makers, and advocates concerned with Indigenous politics, social movements, environmental justice, and resistance in an era of expanding resource development.