Canary in the Coal Mine: Geographies of Disposability and Precarity in the Flint Water Crisis

Authors: Valeria Sosa Garnica*,
Topics: Urban Geography, Political Geography, Ethnicity and Race
Keywords: Disposability, Precarity, Urban Studies, Political Geography, settler colonialism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 4:30 PM / 6:10 PM
Room: Truman, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Beginning in 2002 with the first emergency management takeover and further impulsed by the now internationally infamous Flint Water crisis, neoliberal austerity and abandonment have characterized the political landscape of Flint, Mi. The organized abandonment of Flint, MI is not simply patterns of capitalist exploitation or residues of systemic racism. Using a settler colonialism framework, I argue that the Flint was raced and classed “poor” and “black,” determinations that sealed its fate as a zone of disposable peoples living precarious lives. Using critical discourse analysis, I analyze how race, class, and geography interact in Flint to create a necropolitical state mediated by the complete loss of democracy after 2002. This paper is a part of a wider research project to situate the Flint Water Crisis within a larger histories of colonialism and disaster capitalism. I aim to move beyond the one-dimensional analysis of the Flint Water Crisis as a unique event situated in discourse of environmental racism, and re-center the agency of the people of Flint.

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