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Publishers WeeklySociology professor Auyero (Poor People's Politics) and Argentinean anthropologist Swistun combine their divergent backgrounds and research skills to present this case study of Swistun's home, a crowded Buenos Aires shantytown called Flammable with a poor, highly polluted environment. Complicated by the false optimism they receive from the government, media and lawyers ("having shit in your drinking water" is good, lawyers say, "because you can get a lot of money out of it") residents understand contamination, but they "interpret the information in different and sometimes contradictory ways." The authors see this "social domination" as the major instrument keeping residents from meaningful protest or organization; even residents aware that Shell Oil dumps toxic waste into their community are subtly re-informed by "many misinterventions" that obscure the source of the problem (are companies to blame, or the government? high-transmission electrical wires? poor personal health habits?). A powerful study of environmental abuse and "toxic suffering," this will acquaint readers in a personal way with a troubling and too-common plight.
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