Seminar: Risk/Equity

August 21st, 2019

The articulation of risk assessment and management as being at the heart of environmental justice is the focus of this seminar, which explores the paired concepts of risk and equity through lived experiences.

Risk to life and wellbeing are emblematic of the Anthropocene yet many risks are not shared nor accounted for amid the slow disasters of faulty infrastructure and exclusionary spatial practices that leave marginalized people in harm’s way. This seminar articulates how risk assessment and management are at the heart of environmental justice.

The adverse risks to climate change and ecological degradation are never shared equally across the globe—or even within a region. This seminar explores the paired concepts of risk and equity as expressed through the lived experiences of residents in the lower Mississippi River region, and the infrastructures of greater New Orleans. It brings the notions of the “Quotidian Anthropocene” and “Slow Disaster” to bear, thinking about industrialization and toxicity not merely as quantifiable events on a timeline, but as exceedingly slow processes of environmental and human stress, locating the effects in the everyday lives and coping strategies of communities that persist and resist. Participants will work with conveners to gain background knowledge about these ideas, and then apply the concepts to field experiences in conjunction with community partners. The conceptual application is only made viable through a commitment to the mutuality of partnership with community members and locally active health and land use experts. We will explore the scale and scope of (anti-)Anthropocene activism and the diverse ways of reacting to risk/equity issues in Louisiana.

Special care is taken to emphasize that participants will be working within pre-existing channels of mutuality and collaboration, focused on the work of the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) and the Louisiana Landmarks Society (LLS), among others. Rather than foster “toxic tourism,” participants will deepen their facility with the Quotidian Anthropocene and Slow Disaster through the development of methods of local action—working on a project that was launched in September through the activities of the New Orleans Anthropocene Field Campus. At this time, the project format is open-ended, but will revolve around the formation of a community archive and it is expected that participants may wish to remain active and engaged in the localized work and partnerships after the Campus ends. Two advance call-in seminars will introduce participants to the concepts and the partnered project before the November Campus convenes. In Louisiana, participants will engage in on-site work sessions with LEAN and LLS as well as “on-campus” debrief and discussion sessions.