The emerging environmental justice movement has created greater awareness among scholars that communities from all over the world suffer from similar environmental inequalities. This volume takes up the challenge of linking the focussed campaigns and insights from African American campaigns for environmental justice with the perspectives of this global group of environmentally marginalized groups. The editorial team has drawn on Washington's work, on Paul Rosier's study of Native American environmentalism, and on Heather Goodall's work with Indigenous Australians to seek out wider perspectives on the relationships between memories of injustice and demands for environmental justice in the global arena. This collection contributes to environmental historiography by providing "bottom up" environmental histories in a field which so far has mostly emphasized a "top down" perspective, in which the voices of those most heavily burdened by environmental degradation are often ignored. The essays here serve as a modest step in filling this lacuna in environmental history by providing the viewpoints of peoples and of indigenous communities which traditionally have been neglected while linking them to a global context of environmental activism and education.
Scholars of environmental justice, as much as the activists in their respective struggle, face challenges in working comparatively to locate the differences between local struggles as well as to celebrate their common ground. In this sense, the chapters in this book represent the opening up of spaces for future conversations rather than any simple ending to the discussion. The contributions, however, reflect growing awareness of that common ground and a rising need to employ linked experiences and strategies in combating environmental injustice on a global scale, in part by mimicking the technology and tools employed by global corporations that endanger the environmental integrity of a diverse set of homelands and ecologies.
These moving stories compel us to think about two interrelated questions: Why do societies seem perenially to require necessary victims? And, why have we proven unable to rein in our limitless, even mindless, lust for growth and gain, especially in light of the human costs? Either we heed the "Echoes from the Poisoned Well" or we will all soon drink its deadly draught.--Weiner, Douglas R.
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