Thesis ID: CBB476413086

Swamp Capitalism: Ecology, Extraction, and the Roots of Environmental Racism in Louisiana (2021)


“Swamp Capitalism: Ecology, Extraction, and the Roots of Environmental Racism in South Louisiana” is a history of south Louisiana swamps, oil, and Black labor, beginning 2.5 million years ago. It is told through stories that unfold in the swamp—a hybrid landscape of water and land—that have been overlooked, dismissed, diminished, or submerged. I argue that racial, environmental, and economic encounters in Louisiana swamps created conditions of Black life that shaped and continue to shape the very foundations of North America. This project calls for a more capacious understanding of environmental racism and racial capitalism that extends earlier than the twentieth century and beyond the plantation system. It draws connections between biochemistry, geology, engineering, works of art, mineral prospecting, and sugar plantation economies. The project examines the physical and metaphorical composition of swamps, oil, salt, and sugar; manifestations of environmentally-triggered racial fear in Mississippi River infrastructure projects, Louisiana Civil Code, and Southern literature; and specific locations in which racialized labor exploitation and ecological degradation continue to affect Black communities today. The interdisciplinary methodology hybridizes archival research, digital cartography, graphic design, and soil testing to enable new, sometimes unexpected readings of landscapes and sources.

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Authors & Contributors
Sellers, Christopher C.
Anker, Peder Johan
Bailes, Kendall E.
Calame, Claude
Colten, Craig E.
Cutcliffe, Stephen H.
Environmental History
Environment and History
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
History and Technology
Journal of Visual Art Practice
Medicina nei Secoli - Arte e Scienza
Pickering & Chatto
University of North Carolina Press
University of Tennessee Press
University Press of America for the American Society for Environmental History
University Press of Kansas
Environmental history
Environmental sciences
Science and politics
Starling, Simon
Time Periods
20th century, late
20th century
19th century
18th century
21st century
United States
Louisiana (U.S.)
New Orleans (Louisiana, U.S.)
New York (U.S.)
Australian Academy of Science

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