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.
Despite living in one of the country’s most environmentally progressive states, California environmental justice activists have spent decades fighting for clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and safe, healthy communities in which to live and work. Evolution of a Movement tells their story – from the often-raucous protests of the 1980s and 1990s to activists’ growing presence inside the halls of the state capitol in the 2000s and 2010s. Perkins offers a new lens for understanding environmental justice activism in California, tracing how shifting political contexts combined with activists’ own efforts to institutionalize their work within nonprofits and state structures.
Drawing on case studies and 125 interviews with activists from Sacramento to the California-Mexico border, Perkins explores the successes and failures of the environmental justice movement in California. She shows why some activists have moved away from the disruptive “outsider” political tactics common in the movement’s early days to embrace traditional political channels of policy advocacy, electoral politics and working from within the state’s political system to enact change. But while some see these changes as a sign of the growing sophistication of the environmental justice movement, others critique their potential to blunt grassroots power. At a time when environmental justice scholars and activists face pressing questions about the best route for enacting meaningful change, this book provides insight into the strengths and limitations of social movement institutionalization.
The book is available for pre-order now, and could be assigned for mid-semester or end-of-semester reading in the spring of 2022. See the beautiful cover below!