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Environmental (In)Justice

Collaborative, multimodal and ethnographic work in Hungary, India and at the EU scale

The Life and Times of Red Mud Reservoir № VII

‘The Life and Times of Red Mud Reservoir № VII’ is a collaboration between an anthropologist (me, Ian M. Cook) and a graphic artist/illustrator (Gyula Németh) about a bauxite tailings storage facility in the settlement of Almásfüzitő, Hungary. The non-public figures who appear in the following pages are composite characters based on interviews in the settlement. They are not intended to represent real people. The story is narrated by the reservoir itself and covers the historical, political, theoretical, cultural and social aspects of Red Mud Reservoir № VII and those who live in its vicinity.

It was published here in English and here in Hungarian. You can get the full screen versions here  and here.

Urban Arena – a podcast about sustainable and just cities

Cities can play a crucial role in creating just and sustainable futures. Urban Arena is a series of critical conversations with activists, entrepreneurs, intellectuals and policy-makers in different European cities who are working, in complimentary and conflicting ways, to create cities that respond to the twin challenges of justice and sustainability. This podcast is part of three year project: UrbanA  – urban arenas for sustainable and just cities. It was made by me (Ian M. Cook) and the indefatigable Kate McGinn. You can find the podcasts here and here and in the usual places like apple and spotify

The Multiple Displacements of Mangalore Special Economic Zone

I co-wrote The Multiple Displacements of Mangalore Special Economic Zone together with the wonderful Vidya Dinker and Ramachandra Bhatta for Economic and Political Weekly.

You can download it here.

This paper analyses three different types of displacement – social, cultural and economic – in the lives of three women and their families which have been affected by the creation of the Mangalore special economic zone. Conceptualising the displacements in rhythmic terms, it first details the subversion of progressive land reforms and the reassertion of caste-based oppression, followed by the clash between the dharma of the spirits of the land and the neo-liberal dharma of capitalistic development. Finally, it looks at life in a resettlement colony where families that have been uprooted from the agricultural production cycle are closed off from the urban life they are expected to adopt.

Designing urban sustainability: Environmental justice in EU-funded projects

Together with amazing Tamara Steger, I wrote a chapter for The Routledge Handbook of the Political Economy of the Environment. You can find it here.

Urban sustainability initiatives in European cities generally aim to promote ecological and social well-being and nurture a competitive edge. Still, urban sustainability efforts lag behind in their attention to social equality even as urban environmental disparities continue to run deep across race, class and gender lines. The engagement of struggling communities in urban sustainability projects is thus an important aspect of redressing these disparities and promoting environmental justice. In this chapter, we identify the main participation approaches in mainly EU-funded urban sustainability projects and explore their alignment with environmental justice principles. We conclude that environmental justice principles come to the fore through integrated conceptualizations of urban sustainability manifested in participation mechanisms that nurture diversity across actors, roles, knowledge and ways of knowing and build in persistent networks that can help to transform historically embedded, institutionalized discrimination.

Environmental Injustices in Central and Eastern Europe

Together with Dumitrita Holdis we co-led a collaborative project into environmental injustice, in the introduction published in Balkan Insight we argued that

Covering complex topics such as environmental injustice calls for novel reporting approaches. If a topic needs the skills of social scientists, environmental experts and investigative journalists, why not gather those skills in a team? The results might transgress the boundaries of traditional journalism or academia, but they do justice to issues that are otherwise inadequately covered.

The project also resulted in the article Red Sludge on the Blue Danube and Red Mud, A divided Settlement and the Toxic Waste Poisoning Hungary both written by Gabi Horn and myself for VSqaure and Balkan Insight, respectively.

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