Making the Invisible Visible
Telling Stories to Animate Environmental Injustices
Keywords:Critical environmental justice, Black geographies, storytelling, environmental racism
The women of the Newtown Florist Club (NFC), a social and environmental justice organization located in Gainesville, Georgia, use storytelling both in their day-to-day lives and through their political activism to contest the environmental and social injustices they experience. In this paper, I draw on Black geographies and Black feminist storytelling to demonstrate how critical environmental justice scholars can use stories to interrogate systemic environmental injustices. I integrate this theoretical framework with the stories told by NFC members to contend that stories have both theoretical and methodological saliency. Stories facilitate an integration of the structural with lived experiences by highlighting (1) the contradictions activist navigate, (2) the ways activists draw support and motivation from connections to people and place, and (3) the ways activists use the past to connect the personal and political to imagine and prefigure new futures. In conclusion, I reflect on listening to activists’ stories as one way for researchers to operationalize critical environmental justice.
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