“Environmental justice” and “intersectionality” arguably have been two of the most popular buzzwords in social science research in recent years. Both concepts are rooted in radical Black traditions, environmental justice in anti-racist community organizing in the U.S.’s South, and intersectionality in Black feminist legal scholarship. Both concepts have traveled significantly from their original respective homes and have been used to examine issues ranging from fatphobia to climate change. In this discussion, Dr. Fayola Jacobs of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs traces the theoretical, methodological, geographical, and topical journeys of environmental justice and intersectionality. With a focus on how the two concepts have been taken up in research on flood-related disasters and climate change, Jacobs lays out what has been lost and what has been gained on these travels. She argues that current literature’s use of the two concepts is largely superficial, which betrays their critical origins, limits their power for historically rooted understandings of environmental issues, and undermines their ability to help imagine radical solutions.
This talk presented as part of the 2019-2020 Spotlight Series: Environmental Justice in collaboration with the University Honors Program and Northrop Presents. It is cosponsored by the Race, Indigeneity, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Initiative; the Institute for Global Studies; the Department of Geography, Environment, and Society; and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs Urban and Regional Planning Area. To learn more about the series, please click here.