Monica Patrice Barra

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

South Carolina, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 10042

Approve Date

October 2, 2020

Project Title

Barra, Monica (South Carolina, U. of) "Good sediment: Race, geology, and the politics of land loss"

My current book project – Good sediment: Race, geology, and the politics of land loss – is an ethnography of coastal land loss that examines the ways scientific practices and ideologies of natural, geologic processes co-constitute racial inequalities within the context of unprecedented environmental change. Set along the last one hundred miles of the Mississippi River in Plaquemines Parish (county), the book draws on ethnographic research with coastal scientists and residents from several rural African American/Creole communities who are drawn together by Louisiana’s “losing a football field per hour” land loss crisis and experimental projects to sustain sinking coastal wetlands. Grounded in experiences of seemingly disparate groups, the book follows the entwined histories of racial discrimination and political disenfranchisement and scientific practices aimed at transforming the geomorphology of the lower delta landscape from the era of flood control and Jim Crow segregation, to the present so-called post-racial era of coastal restoration. Through an analysis of the racial politics of coastal restoration in Louisiana, the book more broadly suggests that the natural sciences and engineering are central modes through which racial inequalities continue to take shape in the era of climate change and the Anthropocene