Rivke Jaffe, Professor of Cities, Politics and Culture, University of Amsterdam,
Urban Naturalisms: The Cultural Politics of Environmental Injustice
All seminars are in Tillette Hall-246 (Livingston Campus) at 3pm and will be followed by an informal gathering at Pino's in Highland Park
This talk analyses the cultural politics of urban environmental inequalities, connecting concepts of cultural pollution to the distribution of biophysical pollution and examining their co-production in urban space. Focusing on the Caribbean cities of Kingston, Jamaica and Willemstad, Curaçao, the talk explores how physical contaminants such as uncollected garbage, raw sewage and toxic smoke are conflated with certain places and populations, and justified through references to social pathologies. While these justifications of environmental injustice are not always explicitly racist or classist, they draw directly on colonial patterns of urban development and historically developed portrayals of Afro-Caribbean persons and their surroundings as unhealthy, unsafe and unmodern. The talk dissects the workings of the “urban naturalisms” that make instances of environmental injustice appear normal, and discusses the tactics that residents of polluted neighborhoods use to negotiate socio-ecological discrimination.