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Subaltern Environmentalism in the United States: A Historiographic Review

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When a group of people is faced with both social and environmental subordination, they are the victims of environmental injustice. This subordination is manifest in the disproportionate siting of environmental hazards in poor or minority communities and also in the inequitable distribution of ecological resources, both of which perpetuate the marginalisation of subaltern groups. At the heart of the environmental justice movement is a fight for the empowerment of subaltern groups, heretofore excluded from environmental decision-making. In recognising that the environmental health of their living spaces and families is critical to exacting any kind of improvement of their socioeconomic conditions, subaltern groups have added a dynamic new dimension to their social struggles. This counter-hegemonic struggle for ecological democracy is one of the fastest growing social movements in contemporary society, and requires the attention of environmental historians to situate it within the broader context of the history of environmentalism.

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Keywords: environmental justice; environmental racism; historiography; subaltern environmentalism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2002

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 0.698. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.806.
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