Sites Unseen: Uncovering Hidden Hazards in American Cities

Russell Sage Foundation
Free sample

From a dive bar in New Orleans to a leafy residential street in Minneapolis, many establishments and homes in cities across the nation share a troubling and largely invisible past: they were once sites of industrial manufacturers, such as plastics factories or machine shops, that likely left behind carcinogens and other hazardous industrial byproducts. In Sites Unseen, sociologists Scott Frickel and James Elliott uncover the hidden histories of these sites to show how they are regularly produced and reincorporated into urban landscapes with limited or no regulatory oversight. By revealing this legacy of our industrial past, Sites Unseen spotlights how city-making has become an ongoing process of social and environmental transformation and risk containment.

To demonstrate these dynamics, Frickel and Elliott investigate four very different cities—New Orleans, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Portland, Oregon. Using original data assembled and mapped for thousands of former manufacturers’ locations dating back to the 1950s, they find that more than 90 percent of such sites have now been converted to urban amenities such as parks, homes, and storefronts with almost no environmental review. And because manufacturers tend to open plants on new, non-industrial lots rather than on lots previously occupied by other manufacturers, associated hazards continue to spread relatively unabated. As they do, residential turnover driven by gentrification and the rising costs of urban living further obscure these sites from residents and regulatory agencies alike.

Frickel and Elliott show that these hidden processes have serious consequences for city-dwellers. While minority and working class neighborhoods are still more likely to attract hazardous manufacturers, rapid turnover in cities means that whites and middle-income groups also face increased risk. Since government agencies prioritize managing polluted sites that are highly visible or politically expedient, many former manufacturing sites that now have other uses remain invisible. To address these oversights, the authors advocate creating new municipal databases that identify previously undocumented manufacturing sites as potential environmental hazards. They also suggest that legislation limiting urban sprawl might reduce the flow of hazardous materials beyond certain boundaries.

A wide-ranging synthesis of urban and environmental scholarship, Sites Unseen shows that creating sustainable cities requires deep engagement with industrial history as well as with the social and regulatory processes that continue to remake urban areas through time.

A Volume in the American Sociological Association's Rose Series in Sociology.
Read more
Collapse

About the author

Scott Frickel is associate professor of sociology at Brown University.

James R. Elliott is professor of sociology at Rice University.
Read more
Collapse
Loading...

Additional Information

Publisher
Russell Sage Foundation
Read more
Collapse
Published on
Jul 3, 2018
Read more
Collapse
Pages
180
Read more
Collapse
ISBN
9781610448734
Read more
Collapse
Read more
Collapse
Read more
Collapse
Language
English
Read more
Collapse
Genres
Social Science / Disasters & Disaster Relief
Social Science / General
Social Science / Regional Studies
Social Science / Research
Social Science / Social Classes & Economic Disparity
Social Science / Sociology / Urban
Read more
Collapse
Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
Read more
Collapse
Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
Read more
Collapse

Reading information

Smartphones and Tablets

Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.

Laptops and Computers

You can read books purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.

eReaders and other devices

To read on e-ink devices like the Sony eReader or Barnes & Noble Nook, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Please follow the detailed Help center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.
Surrounded by one of the largest petrochemical compounds in Argentina, a highly polluted river that brings the toxic waste of tanneries and other industries, a hazardous and largely unsupervised waste incinerator, and an unmonitored landfill, Flammable's soil, air, and water are contaminated with lead, chromium, benzene, and other chemicals. So are its nearly five thousand sickened and frail inhabitants. How do poor people make sense of and cope with toxic pollution? Why do they fail to understand what is objectively a clear and present danger? How are perceptions and misperceptions shared within a community? Based on archival research and two and a half years of collaborative ethnographic fieldwork in Flammable, this book examines the lived experiences of environmental suffering. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, residents allow themselves to doubt or even deny the hard facts of industrial pollution. This happens, the authors argue, through a "labor of confusion" enabled by state officials who frequently raise the issue of relocation and just as frequently suspend it; by the companies who fund local health care but assert that the area is unfit for human residence; by doctors who say the illnesses are no different from anywhere else but tell mothers they must leave the neighborhood if their families are to be cured; by journalists who randomly appear and focus on the most extreme aspects of life there; and by lawyers who encourage residents to hold out for a settlement. These contradictory actions, advice, and information work together to shape the confused experience of living in danger and ultimately translates into a long, ineffective, and uncertain waiting time, a time dictated by powerful interests and shared by all marginalized groups. With luminous and vivid descriptions of everyday life in the neighborhood, Auyero and Swistun depict this on-going slow motion human and environmental disaster and dissect the manifold ways in which it is experienced by Flammable residents.
From St.
Louis to New Orleans, from Baltimore to Oklahoma City, there are poor and
minority neighborhoods so beset by pollution that just living in them can be
hazardous to your health. Due to entrenched segregation, zoning ordinances that
privilege wealthier communities, or because businesses have found the ‘paths of
least resistance,’ there are many hazardous waste and toxic facilities in these
communities, leading residents to experience health and wellness problems on
top of the race and class discrimination most already experience. Taking stock of the recent environmental
justice scholarship, Toxic Communities examines the connections among residential segregation, zoning, and exposure to
environmental hazards. Renowned environmental sociologist Dorceta Taylor focuses
on the locations of hazardous facilities in low-income and minority communities
and shows how they have been dumped on, contaminated and exposed.

Drawing on an array of
historical and contemporary case studies from across the country, Taylor
explores controversies over racially-motivated decisions in zoning laws,
eminent domain, government regulation (or lack thereof), and urban renewal. She
provides a comprehensive overview of the debate over whether or not there is a
link between environmental transgressions and discrimination, drawing a clear
picture of the state of the environmental justice field today and where it is
going. In doing so, she introduces new concepts and theories for understanding
environmental racism that will be essential for environmental justice scholars.
A fascinating landmark study, Toxic
Communities greatly contributes to the study of race, the environment, and
space in the contemporary United States.

other books have focused on environmental injustice in the U.S. South, no single volume has examined such issues and problems in Florida at the metropolitan scale. This book is a compilation of original empirical research on the nexus between the environmental and social inequalities in Tampa Bay, Florida's fastest growing metropolitan area. Systematic research about spatial and environmental justice are largely absent from the rich historiography of Florida, especially the Tampa Bay metropolitan area of southwest Florida. Recent empirical evidence suggests that environmental justice is a real and emergent problem within Tampa Bay afflicting many deprived communities and socially excluded groups. Moreover, certain communities are not only unevenly exposed to environmental risks, but are also disproportionately vulnerable to their many adverse health effects. Our book thus fills a critical need to explore both the causes and consequences of environmental injustice in Tampa Bay. This book combines the latest theoretical insights on spatial and environmental justice with empirical case studies which examine racial/ethnic and socioeconomic inequities associated with various undesirable land uses and pollution sources in Hillsborough County, Tampa Bay's largest population and economic center. The book offers a progressive approach to a more long-term, comprehensive examination of a rapidly emerging field of study that provides academic scholars and decision-makers with new perspectives on a variety of environmental and social challenges confronting metropolitan Florida in the 21st century. It could offer guidance to metropolitan policy makers and planners, especially public health professionals, social welfare providers, infrastructure developers, emergency responders, and community activists. For this reason, this book should also be of interest to business associations, environmental groups, and members of the general public.
It lurks in the corner of our imagination, almost beyond our ability to see it: the possibility that a tear in the fabric of life could open up without warning, upending a house, a skyscraper, or a civilization.

Today, nine out of ten Americans live in places at significant risk of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, terrorism, or other disasters. Tomorrow, some of us will have to make split-second choices to save ourselves and our families. How will we react? What will it feel like? Will we be heroes or victims? Will our upbringing, our gender, our personality–anything we’ve ever learned, thought, or dreamed of–ultimately matter?
    
Amanda Ripley, an award-winning journalist for Time magazine who has covered some of the most devastating disasters of our age, set out to discover what lies beyond fear and speculation. In this magnificent work of investigative journalism, Ripley retraces the human response to some of history’s epic disasters, from the explosion of the Mont Blanc munitions ship in 1917–one of the biggest explosions before the invention of the atomic bomb–to a plane crash in England in 1985 that mystified investigators for years, to the journeys of the 15,000 people who found their way out of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Then, to understand the science behind the stories, Ripley turns to leading brain scientists, trauma psychologists, and other disaster experts, formal and informal, from a Holocaust survivor who studies heroism to a master gunfighter who learned to overcome the effects of extreme fear.

Finally, Ripley steps into the dark corners of her own imagination, having her brain examined by military researchers and experiencing through realistic simulations what it might be like to survive a plane crash into the ocean or to escape a raging fire.
    
Ripley comes back with precious wisdom about the surprising humanity of crowds, the elegance of the brain’s fear circuits, and the stunning inadequacy of many of our evolutionary responses. Most unexpectedly, she discovers the brain’s ability to do much, much better, with just a little help.

The Unthinkable escorts us into the bleakest regions of our nightmares, flicks on a flashlight, and takes a steady look around. Then it leads us home, smarter and stronger than we were before.
©2019 GoogleSite Terms of ServicePrivacyDevelopersArtistsAbout Google|Location: United StatesLanguage: English (United States)
By purchasing this item, you are transacting with Google Payments and agreeing to the Google Payments Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.