Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago

Article excerpt

Review: Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago By David Naguib Pellow Reviewed by Alan L. Chan Chinese Lutheran Church, San Francisco, USA David Naguib Pellow. Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002. 234 pp. ISBN 0-262-16212- 1 (cloth). US$24.95

The question that motivated Pellow to write this book was: what are the origins of environmental inequality and environmental racism with regard to policies on the management of solid waste in urban areas? (p. 5) The author is an Associate Professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

As the title suggests, Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago is an analysis of the politics of garbage in Chicago, in particular, and the United States, in general. There are altogether seven chapters plus an extensive 21-page reference section in this book. The topics of the seven chapters are: 1. Waste, Politics, and Environmental Injustice; 2. A Social History of Waste, Race, and Labor, Part I: Movements, Technology, and Politics, 1880s-1930s; 3. A Social History of Waste, Race, and Labor, Part II: Waste Management and Waste Conflicts, 1940s-2000; 4. The Movement for Environmental Justice in Chicago and the United States; 5. Working for the Movement: Recycling Labor at the Resource Center; 6. The Next Evolutionary Stage: Recycling Waste or Recycling History?; and 7. Toward Environmental Justice.

As an activist-scholar, Pellow frames the "garbage wars" as a struggle against environmental racism, rather than simply battles over natural resource management and community resources (p. vii). Realizing the complexity and disturbing reality of environmental racism, he agues that not only are local and/or state governments and industry often guilty of perpetrating acts of injustice, but often environmentalists and certain people of color are also implicated in creating these problems. …

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