Black Lives on the Forgotten River: 
Linking Water Pollution, Subsistence Fishing, and Wellbeing along the Anacostia

Authors: Hannah Krauss*, St. Mary's College of Maryland
Topics: Environment, Human Rights, Qualitative Research
Keywords: Anacostia River, wellbeing, social networks, subsistence fishing, environmental justice
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Cabinet Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Known as the Forgotten River, the Anacostia, a tributary of the Potomac River, is noted for its high levels of contamination due to pollution from around the watershed. Despite this toxicity and associated health risks, many people in the low income, majority black community of Anacostia, DC still rely on the Anacostia River for their subsistence fishing needs. This is due mainly to the social capital fishermen gain when sharing their catch with family and friends, as well as the way fishing in the river connects them to their ancestors and sense of place. My project answers questions about the importance of subsistence fishing as a tradition in the community, how it affects community wellbeing and social networks, and ways to raise awareness for this environmental justice community. Using the photovoice method and the environmental justice paradigm, my research provides an ethnographic report that mutually benefits myself and the people of Anacostia burdened by this environmental injustice.

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