The Wild and the Toxic: American Environmentalism and the Politics of Health

The Wild and the Toxic: American Environmentalism and the Politics of Health

by Jennifer Thomson

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Health figures centrally in late twentieth-century environmental activism. There are many competing claims about the health of ecosystems, the health of the planet, and the health of humans, yet there is little agreement among the likes of D.C. lobbyists, grassroots organizers, eco-anarchist collectives, and science-based advocacy organizations about whose health matters most, or what health even means. In this book, Jennifer Thomson untangles the complex web of political, social, and intellectual developments that gave rise to the multiplicity of claims and concerns about environmental health.

Thomson traces four strands of activism from the 1970s to the present: the environmental lobby, environmental justice groups, radical environmentalism and bioregionalism, and climate justice activism. By focusing on health, environmentalists were empowered to intervene in the rise of neoliberalism, the erosion of the regulatory state, and the decimation of mass-based progressive politics. Yet, as this book reveals, an individualist definition of health ultimately won out over more communal understandings. Considering this turn from collective solidarity toward individual health helps explain the near paralysis of collective action in the face of planetary disaster.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781469651651
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 03/27/2019
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 216
File size: 4 MB

About the Author

Jennifer Thomson is assistant professor of history at Bucknell University.

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From the Publisher

This book provides a fundamental reinterpretation of the American environmental movement on both a conceptual and a historiographical level and has the potential to make major, and in some ways ground-shifting, contributions to environmental studies.—Robert Gioielli, University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College

Sophisticated and adept, this is the first book-length investigation of the role of health in postwar environmentalism.—Elena Conis, University of California, Berkeley

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