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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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Urban Naturalisms

Urban Naturalisms

5 (p.92) Urban Naturalisms
Concrete Jungles

Rivke Jaffe

Oxford University Press

This chapter concentrates on the role of pollution in constructing and naturalizing urban inequalities, connecting concepts of cultural pollution to the distribution of material pollution and examining their co-production in urban space. In Kingston and Willemstad, physical contaminants such as uncollected garbage, raw sewage, and toxic smoke are conflated with certain places and populations, and justified through references to social pathologies. While these justifications of environmental injustice are not always explicitly racist or classist, they draw directly on colonial patterns of urban development and historically developed portrayals of Afro-Caribbean persons and their surroundings as unhealthy, unsafe, and unmodern. The chapter dissects the workings of the urban naturalisms that make instances of environmental injustice appear normal and discusses the various spatial and discursive tactics that residents of polluted neighborhoods use to negotiate socio-ecological discrimination, showing how these tactics involve the simultaneous rejection, deflection, and reproduction of urban naturalisms.

Keywords:   pollution, cultural politics, environmental racism, class, area stigmatization, resistance

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