Care ecologies: affective dynamics in a polluted environment in Taranto, Italy

Authors: Maaret Jokela-Pansini*, University of Berne, Switzerland Geographisches Institut
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Cultural Geography
Keywords: care, feminist political ecology, Italy, pollution
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/8/2020
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 4:35 PM
Room: Beverly, Sheraton, IM Pei Tower, Terrace Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This study views residents’ care activities in steel town in Taranto, Southern Italy. Taranto, known as territorio malato (sick environment) is a high-risk environmental area and hosts Europe’s largest and most polluting steel plant. The city contributes to 80% of Italy’s and almost 10% of Europe’s dioxin emissions (European Commission, 2016). This study weaves together scholarship in environmental justice and feminist political ecologies and, views residents’ everyday resistances as care activities, understood as embodied and everyday doings based on the, sometimes contradictory, dimensions of labour, affection and ethics (Puíg de la Bellacasa, 2017). Based on ethnographic research (interviews and participant observation), I argue that rather than explicitly focusing on the steel plant and its pollution, residents are creating ecologies of care to improve, adapt to and distance themselves from (where possible) their polluted environment. Because the steel plant is situated in Southern Europe and in one of the poorest cities in Italy, the study reveals the uneven geographies of toxicity and asks, whose bodies count? The study contributes to current debates on environmental justice issues looking at the agency of people in toxic environments, in addition to social and spatial injustice concerns.

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