Presented by José Manuel Santillana, Department of Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies, ICGC IDF
Garnering nationwide attention within the last five years, the Flint Water Crisis and the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline highlighted the relentless ecological violences racialized communities experience today. Perhaps a less well-known struggle is the case of rural central California town Kettleman City. For over three decades, Mexican migrant women have continued to fight against various environmental threats that include routine exposure to pesticides that enters through three sides of the city, high levels of arsenic and benzene found in the soil and water as well as the establishment and ongoing operations of a toxic waste facility owned by multibillionaire corporation Chemical Waste Management, Inc. Utilizing oral histories and archival research methods, I centralize the experiences of Mexican migrant women activists within environmental discourses to underline the vital contributions of Mothers of Color. Moreover, my dissertation offers critical perspectives for understanding how historically marginalized communities have challenged existing notion of geography, ecology and violence. Building upon the historical work of Environmental Justice scholars Luke W. Cole, Robert D. Bullard, Shelia R. Foster and Devon G. Peña that examine the ecological consequences of racialization and colonialism for Indigenous and People of Color in the United States, my research extends our understanding about environmental justice through a deep consideration around how Mexican immigrant women subjects in rural geographies transform intersecting categories of space, place and the environment to combat multiple forms of violence.