Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationBergen, U. of
Grant numberGr. 9640
Approve DateApril 16, 2018
Project TitleChance, Dr. Kerry R. U. of Bergen, Bergen, Norway - To aid research on 'Habitable Air: Race, Gender, and Poverty in the Time of Climate Change'
Preliminary abstract: A Wenner Gren fellowship will allow me to complete the research for my full-length book manuscript, Habitable Air: Race, Gender, and Poverty in the Time of Climate Change. My project examines how the urban poor, living in the shadows of jointly-owned petrochemical companies, manage the cultural and corporeal effects of chemical air pollution. The project asks: What political life is possible for — and created by — in the world’s most environmentally precarious communities? Modern democratic theory rests on the foundational principle that all citizens have an equal share in political life. In contemporary South Africa and the United States, legacies of colonialism and racial segregation, along with neoliberalism and climate change, test that very foundation. I approach political life as not merely defined by the laws, policies, and decisions of state-sanctioned agents, but by everyday practices among ordinary citizens and their interactions with the environment. Drawing from over a decade of ethnographic research in the interconnected petrochemical hubs of South Africa and Louisiana’s ‘cancer alley,’ my project offers a critical examination of how the urban poor, living on the precarious margins, come to inhabit political roles and practice climate politics in twenty-first century liberal democracies.