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Concrete JunglesUrban Pollution and the Politics of Difference in the Caribbean$
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Rivke Jaffe

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190273583

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190273583.001.0001

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Downtown Environmentalism

Downtown Environmentalism

Chapter:
7 (p.131) Downtown Environmentalism
Source:
Concrete Jungles
Author(s):

Rivke Jaffe

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190273583.003.0007

This chapter sketches the contours of “Downtown environmentalism,” an emergent discourse on environmental injustice that prioritizes brown agenda environmental problems such as garbage, sewage, and air pollution, and emphasizes the power structures that underlie the disproportionate exposure of low-income Afro-Caribbean urban populations to these problems. This complex combination of natural and environmental constructions is tied to the spatial context of urban marginalized areas and informed by historically shaped Afro-Caribbean religious beliefs and colonially rooted narratives of moral hygiene and progress. The first two sections of the chapter explore residents’ interpretations of pollution as connected to social, economic, and political issues, and their ambivalent attitudes toward human–nature relations. The next section focuses on critical perceptions of urban political ecology, in which low-income Curaçaoans and Jamaicans connect ecological vulnerabilities to their social and political marginalization. I end by considering the lack of organized environmental activism in Caribbean inner-city neighborhoods.

Keywords:   environmental justice, pollution, vulnerability, risk, marginalization, religion, environmental subjectivities, emplacement

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