Environmentalism

Authored by: Grisel Y. Acosta

The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature

Print publication date:  August  2012
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415666060
eBook ISBN: 9780203097199
Adobe ISBN: 9781136221613

10.4324/9780203097199.ch19

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Abstract

My memories of growing up in Chicago’s Logan Square include seeing several family friends lose appendages in work-related incidents and reading countless pamphlets about asbestos and lead paint. The Latino/a population in the US continues to be disproportionately exposed to environmental hazards in both urban and rural settings, hazards that include higher odds of occupational injury in industrial, farming, and construction jobs (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health 2004). But my memories also include staring at pine trees in my yard and dancing in snow. There is variety. One would think ecocritical analyses of Latino/a literature – rich with accounts of the Amazon or the agricultural Midwest or farmworkers’ unions or trips between the urban Northwest and the Caribbean – would be easy to find, but articles originate in different departments under different scholarly headings. Environmentalism in literature, which can fall under ecocriticism or nature writing or environmental justice studies (to further the confusion, the term environmental justice also points to environmental social justice issues outside of literary studies), was acknowledged as an area of study in the early 1990s, mainly with explorations of texts that described the rural US through the eyes of non-Latino/a white authors. Nature was viewed as a benign and peaceful place to visit for renewal, a place to be preserved but also a place in danger because of human pollution. Ecocritics came from English, anthropology, modern language, and education departments, among others. Despite the many departments open to this field of study, ecocritics have quickly admitted that the origins of ecocriticism had a narrow view.

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