Environmental Crisis and Human Costs
Benjamin Franklin American Studies Research Institute
University of Alcalá, Spain
Editors: Ufuk Ozdag, Hacettepe University, Turkey
François Gavillon, Université de Bretagne Occidentale, France
The link between environmental devastation and health disruption is finally on the public health agenda. Nuclear catastrophes, the use of pesticides, air pollution, toxic waste, synthetic chemicals, GMOs, are all connected to the escalating rates of deadly diseases. Widespread public awareness owes much to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (2012 marks the 50th anniversary)—the book that launched the environmental movement with its deep documentation of pesticide damage to human health and to the natural environment. Writers/scientists following in Carson’s footsteps, have currently made human health issues one central focus of mainstream environmentalism in the West. Sandra Steingraber (Living Downstream: A Scientist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment, 1997), Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski, and John Peterson Myers (Our Stolen Future: How We Are Threatening Our Fertility, Intelligence and Survival, 1997), and Devra Davis (When Smoke Ran Like Water: Tales of Environmental Deception and the Battle against Pollution, 2002) have furthered Carson’s legacy into the new millennium. In these works, the intertwined ecologies of the human body and the earth body define the health of the ecosystems. Likewise, both non-fiction and fiction writers have explored the connection between the environment and human health issues. Among major works are Terry Tempest Williams’s Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place (1991), Ana Castillo’s So Far from God (1993), Helena Maria Viramontes’s Under the Feet of Jesus (1995), and Ann Pancake’s Strange As This Weather Has Been (2007).
We invite papers addressing the impact of environmental derangement on human health in literature, film studies or other cultural expressions in the United States. Possible focuses include:
* Environmental issues affecting human health;
* Denunciations of environmental racism and its disproportionate effects on minority and poor populations;
* Parallel effects of environmental, physical and mental health derangement;
* Intertwined ecologies of the human body and the earth body;
* Cultural diversity and biodiversity: health and wealth.