Book talk with Nicole Fabricant: Fighting to Breathe: Race, Toxicity, and the Rise of Youth Activism in Baltimore
15 June 2023 - 15 June 2023
3:00PM - 4:30PM
Join us for a talk by Dr Nicole Fabricant on her new book: Fighting to Breathe
Cover: Fighting to Breathe
Industrial toxic emissions on the South Baltimore Peninsula are among the highest in the United States. Because of the concentration of factories and other chemical industries in their neighborhoods, residents face elevated rates of lung cancer and other respiratory illnesses in addition to heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular disease, all of which can lead to premature death. Nicole Fabricant’s new book Fighting to Breathe follows a dynamic and creative group of high school students who decided to fight back against the race- and class-based health disparities and inequality in their city. For more than a decade, student organizers stood up to unequal land use practices and the proposed construction of an incinerator and instead initiated new waste management strategies. As a Baltimore resident and activist-scholar, Fabricant documents how these young organizers came to envision, design, and create a more just and sustainable Baltimore.
Nicole Fabricant is a socio-cultural anthropologist who teaches at Towson University in Maryland.
For the past several years, Dr. Fabricant has been developing a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project that is presently investigating structural injustices in Curtis Bay, South Baltimore. Much of the data collection and analytic work is being conducted by Benjamin Franklin high-school youth alongside Towson University students who are completing their senior capstone in anthropology. One major question has animated this research: Why do communities experience environmental problems and hazards unevenly? Towson University students have assembled small research collectives and worked collaboratively with youth to document the multiple layers of industrial toxicity, and the cumulative effects upon residents’ health and well-being. The PAR project with undergraduates and high-school students feeds directly into her broader research agenda, as we are creatively mapping how environmental hazards lead to political action or inaction during specific historic moments.
Dr. Fabricant has also conducted extensive research on the cultural politics of resource wars in Latin America. Her first book and early publications centered on the Landless Peasant Movement (MST-Bolivia) a 50,000-member social movement comprised of displaced peasants, informal laborers, and intellectuals fighting for land redistribution and the revitalization of small-scale farming. She has written about the creative ways in which displaced peoples use and mobilize cultural forms to push for political and economic reforms. Critical reflections on the new politics of resources, territory and identity in Bolivia appear in Remapping Bolivia: Resources, Rights and Territory in a Plurinational State, a co-edited volume with Bret Gustafson from Washington University (SAR Press, 2011). Dr. Fabricant is co-executive editor of the North American Congress in Latin America (NACLA).