RESEARCH: My research, teaching,
and service primarily engage environmental communication, environmental
justice studies, tourist studies, and social movement studies.
My perspective is informed by an interdisciplinary training in
the humanities and the sciences and is motivated by pressing issues
of democracy raised by contemporary environmental and social justice
movements. I draw upon ethnographic participant observation fieldwork,
qualitative interviews, my own activism, popular texts, news archives, government documents,
and interdisciplinary secondary research.
My first book,
Toxic Tourism: Rhetorics of Travel, Pollution, and
Environmental Justice, focuses on the environmental
justice movement's use of noncommercial advocacy tours, called
"toxic tours" by those that organize them. Toxic tours
rhetorically function to publicize persistent residential segregation,
environmental racism, environmental classism, reproductive and
gendered politics, public health concerns, local definitions of
place, and the impacts of the ongoing toxification of our world.
They reveal a great deal about environmental injustices in North
America, as well as ways that tourist studies could benefit from
studying nonprofit tours in the future. For more information about
my book and on-line examples of toxic tours, click
My first co-edited
book focuses on the relationship between the environmental and
environmental justice movements in the new millennium. The volume
includes scholars from a range of disciplines, including: communication
studies, anthropology, sociology, philosophy, public policy, and
natural resource sciences. Overall, we illustrate how the two
movements have successfully worked together and, at times, have
compelling reasons to remain two distinct movements. For more
the MIT Urban and Industrial Environments Book Series Blog, click
Warren County, North Carolina, the symbolic birthplace of the
environmental justice movement (though the roots go back farther).
My master's research focused on the ways the local community struggled
for decades to remediate the toxic (PCB) landfill, which initially
pushed them into the limelight. Based on four years of ethnographic
and historic research, I analyze the stories that framed Warren
County's past and the ways residents rhetorically reinvented them
to bring about a more just and environmentally sustainable future.
For a PDF of an article from this research published in the Western Journal of Communication, click
In between fieldwork, I couldn't resist
writing about the Hollywood films A Civil Action and
Erin Brockovich. This essay (2006) gave me an opportunity
to engage two of the most popular referents for toxic pollution
and social change, to explore the ways gender and sexuality intersect
with environmental politics, and to further theorize the cultural
studies concept of "articulation." For a PDF of the
essay published in Environmental Communication Yearbook,
special environmental issue of the journal, Cultural Studies,
which I edited, was published in May 2008. My introduction is
a brief overture about the politics and poetics of the "environment,"
which Raymond Williams called "the most complicated word"
in the English language. Despite the rich possibilities the future
holds, I argue cultural studies has been slow to engage environmental
issues and, when it does, it tends to be for reasons that attempt
to undercut environmental social movements (with notable exceptions,
particularly from outside the American-Anglo-Australian tradition).
For a PDF of the introduction, click
here. My hope is that this volume will help remind us of the importance
of the environment to key cultural studies scholars and prompt
additional work in cultural studies on the environment. I was
fortunate enough to be able to include the following worthwhile
contributions from across the humanities:
Currently, some of the single and co-authored projects I am writing about include: the reluctance to
publicize environmental injustices at the Fernald nuclear weapons
facility (with Prof. Stephen Depoe); the ways Katrina Tours in
New Orleans serve as a forum for renegotiating national identity;
the relationship bewteen disasters and tours; and the limitations of the
term "dark tourism" in tourist studies (with Prof. Michael
Website last updated: December 2008.
site and all contents © Copyright Phaedra C. Pezzullo 2005, All
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