June 29, 2022

Bonds Publishes Research on the Historical Origins of Environmental Inequality

Associate Professor of Sociology Eric Bonds

Associate Professor of Sociology Eric Bonds

Associate Professor of Sociology Eric Bonds recently published an article in the journal Environmental Justice on the historical origins of contemporary environmental injustice in Hopewell, Virginia. The tile and abstract are below:

Historical Environmental Injustice Excavation: The Intentional–and Illegal–Origins of Environmental Inequality in Hopewell, VA

Abstract: There is a growing desire across our country to understand the ways that historical injustices in America’s racist past set the groundwork for today’s racial inequalities. Scholars, students, and activists might meet this moment by doing historical environmental injustice excavation. In order to demonstrate the multiple benefits of this straightforward and accessible case-study method, I present research on Hopewell, a small industrial city in Virginia. As this example shows, such studies can help uncover the locally specific causal pathways that created contemporary environmental injustice, while also providing further evidence that many of today’s environmental inequalities did not arise through happenstance, but are the product of intentional decision-making by White powerholders. And as in the case of Hopewell, further studies may uncover the criminal origins of many ongoing environmental injustices, in which city governments acted in the past with impunity to violate the law in ways that continue to harm people of color today. Finally, such research can help us discover acts of courageous resistance that may push us to rethink when the environmental justice movement was “born.”