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Climate justice, women of color and state-corporate crime in Gulf Coast Louisiana

Authors: Frances Roberts-Gregory*,
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Women, United States
Keywords: climate justice, women of color, Louisiana, autoethnography, plantation geographies, engaged scholarship
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Environmental and climate justice scholars call for an inquiry into the role(s) of Indigenous people(s) and communities of color in resisting premature death and precarity that logically result from necropolitics and state-corporate crime. Feminist climate researchers likewise expose the under-theorization of gender in environmental justice studies, critique gendered vulnerability to climate change and highlight the androcentricity of extractive economies. Despite these intellectual advancements, women of color (WOC) in the USA continue to be vastly underrepresented in national and international climate policy debates and decolonial imaginings of the Anthropocene. My feminist activist research employs decolonial methods including autoethnographic storytelling and conversational style interviews to investigate how Gulf Coast Black and Indigenous women navigate contradictory relationships with energy and petrochemical industries, resist environmental racism and promote climate justice. WOC ultimately organize for environmental and climate justice through youth engagement, multi-racial coalition building, and new media for climate communication. WOC and organizations led by WOC strategically leverage, challenge and (re)frame relationships with energy and petrochemical industries to articulate a spiritual ethic of righteous rage, demand inter- and-intragenerational accountability and resist the devaluation of life in forgotten places and sacrifice zones via the politics of indispensability. My research thus critiques literature that discusses women of color solely as victims as opposed to problem solvers, decenters Whiteness in women’s environmentalism and contributes to innovations in feminist mixed methods. It also complicates pervasive gender-neutral imaginings of post-apocalyptic plantation geographies and highlights the contradictions in women’s everyday lives that speak to contradictions in the larger environmental movement.

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