Join us for a virtual tour of Louisiana's Cancer Alley, a corridor of chemical plants along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans with shockingly high levels of pollution, cancer and COVID-19.
The chemical plants in Cancer Valley are built where there once were sugar plantations. Descendants of enslaved communities still live nearby.
Cancer Alley powerfully illustrates historically produced vulnerability and disadvantage. It also provides powerful examples of Black resistance and resourcefulness.
In conversation with people who live and work in Cancer Alley, the tour describes an exemplary case of environmental injustice and racism, contributing to a digital archive that will help connect communities facing environmental injustice in California, North Carolina, Taiwan, India, and elsewhere around the world.
The October 7th event will begin with a 30-minute virtual tour with stops and stories at the Whitney Plantation (focused on the lives and perspectives of enslaved people in Louisiana), the Fee-Fo-Lay Cafe (where community knowledge is shared and the region’s storytelling traditions are preserved), and places where community members are organizing resistance to the building of yet another petrochemical facility in the area, on a former plantation site. The Formosa Plastics facility is now on hold due to a temporary restraining order (issued in June 2020) to protect the graves of enslaved people on the site. The virtual tour will be followed by a 30-minute Q&A with local cultural leaders Ashley Rogers, and Joy Banner. Following the Q&A, participants will be invited to participate in a collaborative analysis of the region as an exemplary case of environmental injustice, exploring supplemental material in the project’s digital archive.
The tour is a project of the University of California Irvine’s Illuminations Program and Department of Anthropology’s undergraduate class, “Environmental Injustice.” The project extends partnerships between UCI researchers associated with the Disaster-STS Network, the Whitney Plantation Museum, and a diverse coalition of grassroots environmental organizations. These partnerships were established in the 2019 Quotidian Anthropocene Project, carried out in association with the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin’s Anthropocene Curriculum Project.
Kim Fortun (Anthropology, University of California, Irvine)
Tim Schütz (Anthropology, University of California, Irvine)
Ashley Rogers (Director, Whitney Plantation Museum)
Joy Banner (Director of Communications, Whitney Plantation Museum)
Scott Gabriel Knowles (History, Drexel University)