The Slums of Aspen: Immigrants vs. the Environment in America's Eden

Overview


Environmentalism usually calls to mind images of peace and serenity, a oneness with nature, and a shared sense of responsibility.  But one town in Colorado, under the guise of environmental protection, passed a resolution limiting immigration, bolstering the privilege of the wealthy and scapegoating Latin American newcomers for the area’s current and future ecological problems. This might have escaped attention, save for the fact that this wasn’t some rinky-dink backwater. It was Aspen, Colorado, playground...
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The Slums of Aspen: Immigrants vs. the Environment in America's Eden

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Overview


Environmentalism usually calls to mind images of peace and serenity, a oneness with nature, and a shared sense of responsibility.  But one town in Colorado, under the guise of environmental protection, passed a resolution limiting immigration, bolstering the privilege of the wealthy and scapegoating Latin American newcomers for the area’s current and future ecological problems. This might have escaped attention, save for the fact that this wasn’t some rinky-dink backwater. It was Aspen, Colorado, playground of the rich and famous and the West’s most elite ski town.

Tracking the lives of immigrant laborers through several years of exhaustive fieldwork and archival digging, The Slums of Aspen tells a story that brings together some of the most pressing social problems of the day: environmental crises, immigration, and social inequality. Park and Pellow demonstrate how these issues are intertwined in the everyday experiences of people who work and live in this wealthy tourist community. Developing the idea of “environmental privilege”--the economic, political, and cultural power that some groups enjoy, which enables them exclusive access to coveted environmental amenities such as forests, parks, mountains, rivers, coastal property, open lands, and elite neighborhoods--they argue that this odd marriage of environmental and nativist groups occurs because of population fears--both want less people, especially if they are the brown sort.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A clear description of a troubling problem and an important contribution to debates on immigration policy."-Kirkus,

“As the limits to growth discourse gains currency, Park and Pellow’s groundbreaking book is a must-read. Tracing the nativism that has bedeviled the environmental movement for decades, they tell the fascinating story of eco-conscious, upscale Aspen, which was gripped by anti-immigrant fervor in the name of 'saving the planet.' A great addition for courses on environment, race, class, social activism and contemporary problems.”-Juliet Schor,Boston College, and author of The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don't Need

“Two barrels of leftist buckshot, aimed at America's ruling class.” -Ted Conover,author of Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing and Whiteout: Lost in Aspen

“A brilliant, darkly funny expose of Aspen, the ruling classes' green utopia, and the invisible, scorned immigrant labor that makes it all possible.” -Mike Davis,author of Magical Urbanism and No One is Illegal

“As Lisa Sun-Hee Park and David Naguib Pellow make clear, we can’t tackle today’s environmental problems without simultaneously solving social ones. The Slums of Aspen is a must read for all of us who want not just a green and healthy economy, but also a fair and just one.”-Annie Leonard,Author and Host, The Story of Stuff

Kirkus Reviews

Two academic activists peel back the surface of the idyllic resort town of Aspen, Colo., and find a not-so-pretty picture underneath.

Park (Sociology and Asian American Studies/Univ. of Minnesota) and Pellow (Sociology/Univ. of Minnesota) return to the subject of environmental injustice that they explored inThe Silicon Valley of Dreams: Environmental Injustice, Immigrant Workers, and the High-Tech Global Economy(2002). "We believe that the rarified, glorified notion of the Aspen idea often hides a whole mountain of ugly truths," they write, "both in the Rockies and in cities around the world." Using a wide range of sources—historical records, government documents, local newspapers and extensive interviews with town officers, school teachers, immigration-control officials, social-service providers and many Latino immigrant workers and their families—the authors study the paradox of social contempt for and economic dependence on immigrant labor, and they reveal its root causes and impacts. Park and Pellow examine the link between environmentalism and nativism—i.e., anti-immigration policy, asserting that it is "not just the ardent, vicious, right-wing political forces that support nativist environmentalism: it is often the liberal left-of-center folks who share these ideas as well." Indeed, they cite the Sierra Club as promoting the message that one of the major environmental problems is the reproductive behavior of women of color. Numerous quotes from immigrant workers reveal the indignities of their labor conditions, and excerpts from editorials and letters to the editor reveal the attitudes of white residents who resent their presence and blame them for a host of environmental and social problems. The authors also look at specific nonprofit organizations attempting to improve the lot of immigrant workers, and other organizations that oppose these attempts. In their conclusion, they call for an end to environmental racism and fresh thinking about the forms of privilege from which many of us benefit.

A clear description of a troubling problem and an important contribution to debates on immigration policy.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781479834761
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 7/22/2013
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 284
  • Sales rank: 926,192
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Lisa Sun-Hee Park is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of Consuming Citizenship: Children of Asian Immigrant Entrepreneurs and the co-author, with David Pellow, of The Slums of Aspen: Immigrants vs. the Environment in America's Eden and Silicon Valley of Dreams: Immigrant Labor, Environmental Injustice, and the High Tech Global Economy, also available from NYU Press.

David Naguib Pellow is Don A. Martindale Professor of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of Garbage Wars: The Struggle for Environmental Justice in Chicago and Urban Recycling and the Search for Sustainable Community Development, and co-author of The Slums of Aspen: Immigrants vs. the Environment in America's Eden and The Silicon Valley of Dreams: Immigrant Labor, Environmental Injustice, and the High Tech Global Economy, with Lisa Sun-Hee Park, available from NYU Press.

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