Latin American Perspectives: Afro-Americans/Latin Americans and their Struggle for Environmental Justice, Community, and Identity
Issue Editor: April Mayes
In the past two decades the Americas have witnessed the growth of environmental movements organized by African-descended people. In Washington D.C., New York City, and Atlanta gentrification threatens to remove African Americans permanently from their traditional neighborhoods. The devastating impact of Hurricane Katrina on African Americans in New Orleans dramatized and brought into national consciousness a reality that had hitherto remained silent and overlooked, if not deliberately erased—poor black people's political powerlessness and, as result, their displacement from key urban areas. Similarly in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, and along the forested coasts of Central America, Afro-Latin Americans fight multiple struggles to secure juridical recognition, political power, and the right to remain on ancestral lands. Indeed, from their beginnings in the late 1980s and early 1990s, black political movements in Ecuador and Colombia have consistently tied their defense of the environment to larger demands for access to public services, local autonomy, political representation, and respect for diversity and multi-culturalism.
Although there is much that differentiates black communities along the United States' Gulf Coast and Eastern seaboard from those located in Esmeraldas, along Ecuador's Pacific littoral, or Colombia's Caribbean rimlands, the social movements that have mobilized around resource-use issues and land rights both express how and resist the ways in which neoliberal economic and political regimes, globalization, and dis-investment policies have deepened racial and class oppression. Indeed, we contend that these very processes are specifically aimed at displacing African-descended people from spaces that are now considered "prime real estate" or "resource-rich" and are designed, whether through violence or demographic pressures, to erase African-descended people from the physical, political, cultural, and economic landscapes that have shaped their historical memory and identity and provided the foundation for their economic security.
Toward this end, we seek papers that critically examine the political and economic contexts in which environmental justice movements led by African-descended people have emerged throughout the hemisphere.
Possible topics include but are not limited to:
1) The specific impact of economic restructuring, "free trade zones" (zonas francas) or "urban economic zones," dis-investment, neoliberal regimes, and/or globalization on social movement formation among African-descended peoples around environmental problems;
2) Environmental justice movements in specific locations throughout the hemisphere led by African-descended peoples; articles should situate these struggles in the context of national, hemispheric, and global movements of capital;
3) The unique challenge that confronts African Americans and Afro-Latin Americans when they justify their claims to environmental justice in terms of a "native" or "indigenous" narrative of peoplehood and identity formation;
4) Critical studies of "diaspora" as a unit of analysis to examine the environmental crisis facing African-descended people throughout the hemisphere;
The transnational or hemispheric linkages among social movements led by people of African descent and/or the possibilities of cross-racial and cross-ethnic solidarity within the environmental justice movement.
This issue is being coordinated by April Mayes. Prospective contributors should feel free to communicate with April Mayes at the following email address: April.Mayes@pomona.edu
Manuscripts should be no longer than 25 pages of double-spaced text in English, Spanish, or Portuguese. If possible, submit two copies along with a cover sheet and basic biographical information. With these items, we also require that the manuscript be sent on a CD-R, by e-mail, or on a floppy disk if the other formats are not available. The LAP style guide is available on request or online.
Please send any manuscript submissions to:
Managing Editor, Latin American Perspectives¸ P.O. Box 5703, Riverside, California 92517-5703
LATIN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES
P.O. BOX 5703
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA 92517-5703
FAX to LAP (951) 827-5685
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