Hegemony in the Water: Gramsci, Environmental Justice, and the Flint Water Crisis

Authors: Alex Bennett*,
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Environment, Urban Geography
Keywords: hegemony, race, class, water
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 4:00 PM / 5:40 PM
Room: Studio 7, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Flint water crisis is perhaps the most-studied American environmental justice conflict in decades. However, academic environmental justice literature, as evaluated herein using the special issue of the journal Environmental Justice dedicated to Flint, has failed to adequately engage with the racial and neoliberal dimensions of the crisis, focusing instead on violations of state regulations. However, the state has both acknowledged these violations and produced documentation to exonerate itself from wrongdoing. A Gramscian analysis, utilizing the concepts of the integral state, hegemony, and passive revolution, reveals violent moments that occurred in Flint – and are reproduced – at the variegated intersections of race and neoliberalism. Proceeding from these intersections, I identify points of potential unity for political ecologists and scholars of environmental justice, and attempt to apply Gramsci’s theory of the organic intellectual to suggest a conduit between these disciplines. This culminates in a critical ethical framework which may guide academic pursuits.

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