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.

New Publication on Salinas Valley Roadside Agricultural Art

I’m pleased to share that Boom California recently published an new piece of mine, Roadside Art in the “Salad Bowl of the World:” How Agricultural Ideology Obscures Racial Capitalism and Inhibits Labor Reform. The essay grows out of my move to Santa Cruz, CA to to pursue my PhD in 2008. Ranging south from Santa Cruz through the Salinas Valley for research and for pleasure, I started noticing unique, larger than life billboard cut-out murals featuring farmworkers and farmers along the agricultural byways. When possible, I stopped to take photos of the work in the hopes of someday doing something with it.

Many years later, this essay is the result. It analyses the art as a form of agricultural ideology that, I argue, inhibits much needed labor reforms by either obscuring the role of California’s vast Latinx agricultural labor force or, alternately, depicting them as content in their work.

Although I have long incorporated my own photography into my research, this was my first time analyzing visual culture created by others. It is a line of work I intend to continue developing.

It was also a pleasure to return to Boom, which published my photo essay with Julie Sze, “Images from the Central Valley,” in their inaugural edition in 2011. Boom tries to thread the needle of doing public-facing scholarship that still “counts” in the evaluations that faculty undergo within their institutions by creating a free, online, magazine-like publication that still puts its manuscripts through peer review. It is a model I wish more publishers would adopt.

Billboard mural of “field man” Bob Lyman holding sliced head of lettuce. Vernon Morris provides scale. Photo by Tracy Perkins. Mural by John Cerney.

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.