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Title: Floods and Fountains: Water Politics and Black Ecologies in Newark, NJ
Authors: Alexandre, Kessie
Advisors: Biehl, Joao G
Greenhouse, Carol J
Contributors: Anthropology Department
Subjects: Black studies
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: Across the United States, cities face the immediate challenges of aging and inadequate water systems. The decline of infrastructures nationwide introduces a number of water insecurities to cities, causing severe disruptions, compounding fragilities in environmental systems, and exposing humans to sewage and toxic chemicals. Keyed to the compounded realities of chronic flooding, tap water contamination, and waterway pollution in the city of Newark, NJ, “Floods and Fountains” is an ethnography of urban water insecurity and infrastructure disrepair, which examines how water and water management shape political, social, and ecological relations over time. As the burdens of water insecurity disproportionately fall on Black communities, “Floods and Fountains” specifically considers how Black Newarkers contend with water toxicity in the contemporary moment in light of their broader struggles for environmental justice in the city, which date back to the late 1960s. Environmental injustice, or the systematic toxification of environments and its disproportionate impacts on the health and livelihoods of marginalized people, has historically been characterized by the siting of dumpsites, factories, highways and other polluting structures in poor and racialized communities. As a number of recent crises — from Hurricane Katrina to the Flint Water Crisis — have revealed, however, the impact of industrial pollution and degradation in these communities are increasingly compounded with climate change hazards and the breakdown of critical infrastructures. This dissertation thus limns the environmental struggles and ecological relationships that address these multiply entangled points of toxicity and Black disposability, within and without legalistic appeals to environmental justice. It concerns the ways in which ongoing environmental toxification shape the conditions of Black possibility in times of climate change and urban disinvestment and analyzes the ways in which varying modes of Black resistance and refusal speak back to, challenge, and congeal with one another under the onslaught of environmental burden and injury. This dissertation ultimately uncovers the racialization and toxification of environments as these processes become salient in the contemporary moment of heightened water insecurity.
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Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Anthropology

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