Video: Discussing my book with Laura Pulido

Last Friday I had the distinct pleasure of discussing my recently published book, Evolution of a Movement: Four Decades of California Environmental Justice Activism, with scholar Laura Pulido. It was a wonderful way to launch the book into the world. You can watch the complete recording above. It clocks in at just under an hour and a half (introductions, then a reading, then discussion with Dr. Pulido, then discussion in response to audience questions).

The event took place at ASU, with Dr. Pulido zooming in from the University of Oregon and Michael McQuarrie serving as moderator. Together with my home unit, the School of Social Transformation, the event was co-sponsored by the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, the School of Transborder Studies, the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, Rob and Melani Walton Sustainability Solutions Service, and the Center for Work and Democracy. Thank you to everyone who made the event possible.

Quoted in New York Times

I was recently quoted in the New York Times. The article is by Alisha Haridasani Gupta and is titled “The Mental Health Benefits of an Inclusive Outdoor Escape: Amid pandemic stress and racial violence, many communities of color have turned to wilderness areas for healing.” The article covers the mental health benefits of time outdoors for people of color. It addresses these in the context of the long history of racism and violence against people of color in outdoor spaces. Gupta quotes a snippet of the conversation we had to introduce readers to the eugenicist history of the US conservation movement:

Awe-inspiring natural spaces in the U.S., like national parks, are also tarnished with racist histories, according to Tracy Perkins, an assistant professor at Arizona State University who studies social inequality and environmental justice. Many environmental conservation efforts starting in the late 1800s were led by eugenicists, like Madison Grant, to create spaces for white people to get fresh air and exercise in order “to preserve the vitality of white race,” she said.

To be abundantly clear, my quote does not describe my beliefs, but rather the beliefs of some eugenicists of the late 1800s and early 1900s in the United States. I’ve assigned this subject recently in my Environment and Justice class, as well as in my class titled The Multiracial American West. I’ve found that while some students are versed in the conversations about John Muir’s racism and ongoing symbolism within the environmental movement, none are aware of the early conservation movement’s connections to eugenics. I have used the following readings introduce the subject to them and further my own learning:

I highly recommend these readings. They provide an important historical reference point for understanding ongoing racism within the environmental movement. They are also vital to understanding contemporary efforts to return access and management rights to the resources and lands within national parks to the indigenous peoples who once lived there, as well as to indigenous land-back campaigns.

 

Today’s the day!

My book is officially published today! I’ve received my hardcover and paperback copies from UC Press, two friends have texted me pictures of their copies, and my mom forwarded me an e-mail saying that her copy has been delayed until April 15th. It’s been a long process to get here, and I look forward to seeing the work move out into the world.

I’ve given a few talks on it so far. Last fall, I presented the chapter on California’s climate policy AB 32 at the new University of California Center for Climate Justice run by Tracey Osborne. In February, I got to discuss the book with Martha Matusoka, Michael Méndez, Danielle Purifoy and Jonathan London at the American Association of Geographers’ annual meeting. Next week, I’ll zoom into Michelle Glowa’s graduate seminar on research methods at the California Institute of Integral Studies. My undergraduate students in Environment and Justice here at Arizona State University are also reading it now. I’ve enjoyed these opportunities and hope to have more of them. I’m even more interested know where the book may travel to without me. I hope I’ll get messages in a bottle from unexpected places with signs that the book has been there.

Perkins, Tracy. 2022. Evolution of a Movement: Four Decades of California Environmental Justice Activism. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.