Mythmaking and Environmental Justice (Book in Progress)

Mythmaking and Environmental Justice (under contract with the University of California Press) employs supernatural myths to conceptualize the intersections of violence and environmental racism across geographic scales and non/human agencies. Focused on the lived experiences of Afro-Colombians actively processing and resisting the violence against their ecological communities, it also uses myths to frame contemporary struggles for environmental justice. At times these myths describe how the past bleeds into the colonial present through tropes such as devil lore or accusations of witchcraft. In other cases, the myths articulate the abjection of violence (e.g., narco-monsters) or the rejection of hegemonic relations (e.g., monsters of the war on drugs) or the importance of heeding the forces of nature (e.g., eco-monsters). ‘Mythmaking’ in this manuscript also refers to the production of narratives that justify environmental injustices for profit, “environmental conservation” or “national security.”

Mythmaking and Environmental Justice ultimately argues that environmental racism is a form of necropolitics that operates across geographic and ontological boundaries. It is the rationalization of the death and destruction of racialized ecological communities by the environmentally privileged. It draws upon Cameroonian scholar Achille Mbembé’s ‘necropolitics’ to explain how certain subjectivities, especially Black and Brown bodies, are sacrificed in the production of the modern Colombian State and US geopolitical stability. In contrast to environmental studies focused on the symptoms of environmental issues amongst certain populations in specific geographies, this book depicts environmental inequalities as transnational processes rooted in extractivism and forged through exclusion. It relates the struggles to resolve these inequalities in Colombia to those happening elsewhere in the Americas, especially grassroots socio-environmental justice movements in the US.

This book is being written accessibly for undergraduate students of Environmental Studies, Ethnic Studies and Latin American Studies. It would also appeal to graduate students and scholars interested in using postcolonial theory to think through these fields. The descriptions of supernatural entities not only serve as metaphors for the greater purpose of each chapter, but also facilitate new understandings of theoretical concepts such as biopolitics, necropolitics and nonhuman agency.