"But I Know It's True": Environmental Risk Assessment, Justice, and Anthropology

  title={"But I Know It's True": Environmental Risk Assessment, Justice, and Anthropology},
  author={Melissa Checker},
  journal={Human Organization},
Few social issues depend as heavily on scientific information as environmental problems. Yet activists, governmental officials, corporate entities, and even scientists agree that much of the science behind environmental risk assessments is controversial and uncertain. Using a low-income African-American neighborhood as a primary case example, this paper illustrates in concrete terms how environmental risk assessments can exclude the experiences of the poor and people of color. Further, race and… 

State calculations of cultural survival in environmental risk assessment: consequences for Alaska Natives.

  • J. Cassady
  • Sociology
    Medical anthropology quarterly
  • 2010
It is argued that a discourse of "Alaskan exceptionalism" is utilized by the health department to justify their assessment of risk, and this exceptionalist discourse may actually serve to undermine the very lifeways and traditions that it presumes to preserve.

Managing environmental risks: the benefits of a place-based approach.

A two-tiered approach that blends state-based and place-based environmental risk management is recommended, mindful of local circumstances and needs, and addresses health in a systemic and integrative fashion capable of incorporating qualitative social, cultural, and economic drivers and determinants.

Environmental Justice as Recognition and Participation in Risk Assessment: Negotiating and Translating Health Risk at a Superfund Site in Indian Country

Geographic research on environmental justice and risk is moving beyond its conventional focus on proximity and spatial distribution, increasingly recognizing multiple spatialities entailed in other

Anthropology and Environmental Policy: What Counts?

ABSTRACT  In this article, we call for enhanced quantitative and environmental analysis in the work of environmental anthropologists who wish to influence policy. Using a database of 77 leading

Down cancer alley: the lived experience of health and environmental suffering in Louisiana's chemical corridor.

  • M. Singer
  • Political Science
    Medical anthropology quarterly
  • 2011
This article engages arguments made by Auyero and Swistun concerning the uncertainties and confusions that emerge when official or empowered pronouncements about the health impacts of living near waste-generating factories conflict with the everyday experience of perceived health-related contamination in an impoverished community.

Significant life experiences and environmental justice: positionality and the significance of negative social/environmental experiences

Significant life experiences (SLE) research has been criticized for a disproportionate focus on privileged groups and positive experiences. In this paper, I use textual analysis to examine the SLEs

Examining the place of ecological integrity in environmental justice: A systematic review

Environmental justice research is predominately an anthropocentric endeavour, and it is unclear whether this research captures injustices to other species or the integrity of ecological systems that



"It's in the Air": Redefining the Environment as a New Metaphor for Old Social Justice Struggles

Recently, minority activists have formed a new grassroots movement, known as environmental justice, to address toxic waste in their neighborhoods. By comparing and contrasting two environmental

"Voodoo Science" and Common Sense: Ways of Knowing Old-Growth Forests

This article explores loggers' and environmentalists' conflicts over old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest by analyzing the alternative meanings behind invocations of "science." The

The precautionary principle in environmental science.

It is argued that a shift to more precautionary policies creates opportunities and challenges for scientists to think differently about the ways they conduct studies and communicate results.

From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement

When Bill Clinton signed an Executive Order on Environmental Justice in 1994, the phenomenon of environmental racism--the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards, particularly toxic waste

Making Better Environmental Decisions: An Alternative to Risk Assessment

For the past quarter-century, government and the private sector have relied heavily on risk assessment for making decisions, allowing widespread environmental deterioration. In this book, Mary

"Like Nixon Coming to China": Finding Common Ground in a Multi-Ethnic Coalition for Environmental Justice

This article uses ethnographic fieldwork to illustrate how a multi-ethnic group of activists in Brooklyn, New York, formed a coalition for environmental justice in thhborhood. Until the late 1980s

Risk Perception Shadows

The effects of radiation on humans are not clearly understood or agreed upon by scientists. Thus in any situation involving potential risk from radiation, the scientific assessment of


▪ Abstract Recent perspectives in anthropological research define a disaster as a process/event involving the combination of a potentially destructive agent(s) from the natural and/or technological

Dismantling the master's house: Cancer activists, discourses of prevention, and environmental justice

Cancer activists have increasingly turned to environmental factors in explanation of breast cancer “hot spots,” or places with precipitously high rates of incidence, and equally to explain what they

Popular epidemiology and toxic waste contamination: lay and professional ways of knowing.

  • P. Brown
  • Medicine
    Journal of health and social behavior
  • 1992
The hazard-detection and solution-seeking activities of Love Canal, Woburn, and other communities are conceptualized as popular epidemiology: the process by which lay persons gather data and direct and marshal the knowledge and resources of experts in order to understand the epidemiology of disease, treat existing and prevent future disease, and remove the responsible environmental contaminants.