CFP: Racism’s Toxic Entanglements in the Age of Flint and Ferguson (AAG 2017)

CFP AAG 2017: Call for Papers for sessions to be held at the American Association of Geographers, Boston, MA, April 5-9 2017

“Racism’s Toxic Entanglements in the Age of Flint and Ferguson”


Events in Flint and Ferguson demonstrate the “toxic entanglements” of place and life chances, and the ways race and racisms work through diverse environmental conditions, including chemicalized waterways, segregated cities, and the often Manichean geographies of police power (Agard-Jones 2016, Brahinsky 2014, Browne 2015, Davis 2006, Gilmore 2007, Gregory 1999). Although they might be treated separately within scholarship and public policy, modalities of racism (including pollution and police violence) are lived together and call to be analyzed as such. Environmental justice (EJ) scholars and activists have long insisted that race and racism work through geography and the environment. Although EJ scholarship has tended to focus on pollution and anti-toxics activism, the concept of environmental justice has much broader implications for research on racism, spatiality, and power, with implications for segregation, racial violence, and urban policy more broadly (Dillon and Sze 2016, Pellow 2016).


This AAG session seeks papers that are interested in broadening the concept of environmental justice through an analytical focus on racism, embodiment, and environment or place. For example, how might the politics of leaded water in Flint, Michigan, and police killings in Ferguson, Missouri, be understood – historically and analytically – together? What geographical concepts are adequate for theorizing race and racisms, place, and social justice in the contemporary moment? And what social movements and analytical categories can help us work toward a better, more just world?


Other topics and themes could include:

  • Health and medical geographies of difference
  • Intersections of STS and critical race theory
  • Gentrification, displacement, and housing as an environmental problem
  • Research on sustainability from a framework of social justice and critical theory
  • Intersectionality, environment, and embodiment
  • Articulation of race/racisms and financial or legal geographies
  • Industrial ecologies, infrastructure and slow violence
  • Uneven mobilities of people, chemicals, and capital
  • Spatialities of hope and alterity in the context of toxic environments (broadly speaking)


*** Please send an abstract, with contact information, to Lindsey Dillon ( by October 15, 2016

This session is organized by Lindsey Dillon (University of California, Santa Cruz) and Rachel Brahinsky (University of San Francisco).


For details on the AAG meetings, including the cost of registration, see:





Agard-Jones, Vanessa. “Spray.” Somatosphere. May 27, 2014, retrievable at

– “Toxic: A Symposium on Exposure, Entanglement, Endurance,” Yale University, March 2016, at (we build on Agard-Jones’s work with the title of our session, “Toxic Entanglements”)


Brahinsky, Rachel. “Race and the Making of Southeast San Francisco: Towards a Theory of Race‐Class.” Antipode 46 no. 5 (2014): 1258-1276.


Browne, Simone. Dark matters: on the Surveillance of Blackness (Durham: Duke University Press, 2015).


Dillon, Lindsey and Julie Sze. “Police Power and Particulate Matters: Environmental Justice and the Spatialities of In/securities in U.S. Cities,” forthcoming in English Language Notes (Fall/Winter 2016)


Gilmore, Ruth Wilson. Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis, and Opposition in Globalizing California (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007).


Gregory, Steven. Black Corona: Race and the Politics of Place in an Urban Community (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999).


Pellow, David Naguib. “Toward a Critical Environmental Justice Studies,” Du Bois Review: Social Science Research on Race (2016): 1–16.

doi: 10.1017/S1742058X1600014X