Land and Justice: 
A Symposium on Race, Ethnicity, and Environment

Co-sponsored by the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, Environmental Affairs, Middlebury College Organic Garden, Program in American Studies, Program in Environmental Studies


Thursday, April 7

12:30pm-1:30pm    Environmental Studies Woodin Colloquium

Kathryn Morse (Department of History and Environmental Studies, Middlebury College)
“African American Home Gardening in Greene County, Georgia, 1941: The Challenges of Nature and Race in New Deal Documentary Photography”

Hillcrest 103

7:30-10:30pm       Screening of Fresh and Q &A

Ana Sofia Joanes (director)

Dana Auditorium

Friday, April 8

3:00-4:30pm        Opening panel: Laboring Justice: Land, Food, People, and Policy

Amity Doolittle (Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies):“Climate Justice and Indigenous Peoples: Struggles for Land Rights and Self-Determination”

The dominant international dialogue on climate changes policies has focused on the role of science, markets and technology in reducing carbon emissions.  Indigenous Peoples environmental activists have long responded with an alternative framing of the central issues in climate change—issues of justice, human rights and equity. This alternative framing has gained significant traction as a result of two major changes in international policy.  The first is the passage of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the second is increased global attention to the role of policies aimed at “Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation” (REDD).  Drawing on written statements by and interviews with international indigenous environmental activists, this talk explores the origin of this alternative framing of climate change. Particular emphasis is placed in exploring indigenous peoples’ concerns about the potential loss of land rights and self-determination that could result from REDD projects and what safe guards are needed to mitigate the impact of REDD polices on the basic rights of forest-dependent peoples.

Yvonne Yen Liu (Applied Research Center):"The Color of Food: Redefining Good Food."

The Applied Research Center recently embarked on a broad survey of the food system, to map out the race, gender and class of workers along the supply chain. Our findings, detailed in the new report “The Color of Food” were sadly not surprising.  People of color typically make less than whites working in the food chain. This wage gap plays out in all four sectors of the food system, with largest income divides occurring in the food processing and distribution sectors. Women working in the food chain draw further penalties in wages, especially women of color. For every dollar a white male worker earns, women of color earn almost half of that.  People of color are concentrated in low-wage jobs in the food chain. According to the 2008 Census, people of color make up 34.6 percent of the population (that percentage is expected to rise as 2010 Census data becomes available). But workers of color are represented at a level almost one and a half times that in sectors of the food chain.

Moderated by Jessica Liebowitz (Middlebury College) and introduced by Benjamin Blackshear (Class of 2012) and Amanda Warren (Class of 2012)

The Orchard, Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest (Room 103)

6:00-7:15pm Dinner

Kirk Alumni Center

7:30-9:00pm        Keynote address

Carl Zimring (Social Science and Sustainability Studies, Roosevelt University) 
“How Do You Get So Clean and White? Racism and Hygiene in Gilded-Age America”

An understanding of environmental racism requires understanding changing norms in assumptions about hygiene and social order.  After the Civil War, notions of dirt (and dirty people) in the United States changed; increasingly race and ethnicity supplanted economic station as a determining factor in the eyes of sanitary engineers, academics, advertisers, and working-class residents of American cities.  This talk examines some of the consequences of this change, including a new emphasis on cleanliness to white identity, the marketing of cleaning products to bolster that emphasis, and some environmental inequalities involving waste management that emerged by the early twentieth century.

Introduced by Kathryn Morse (Department of History and Environmental Studies, Middlebury College)

Kirk Alumni Center

Saturday, April 9

10:00-11:30am       Presentation

Danyelle O’Hara (Independent scholar) and Mistinguette Smith (Black/Land Project)
A Different American History”

In this participatory presentation, O’Hara and Smith will present a different American history that contextualizes African Americans’ relationship to land and place in the U.S. Using race as a lens, presenters and participants will identify personal relationships and new connections between issues that usually are treated as unrelated environmental, economic development, or civic engagement policy concerns

Moderated by Rachael Joo (Program in American Studies, Middlebury College) and introduced by Janet Rodrigues (Class of 2012)

Axinn 229

11:45am-1:00pm Lunch

1:00-2:30              Concurrent Workshops for Middlebury College and Community

Axinn 103

Intimate Conversations: Building Collaborative Relationships through Qualitative Research”

Facilitators: Greg Sharrow (Vermont Folklife Center) and Ned Castle (Vermont Folklife Center)

Ethnographer Gregory Sharrow and Photo Ethnographer Ned Castle lay out a method in which researcher and research “subject” engage in dialogue that invites a person to articulate his or her experience on their own terms. They will also offer models for moving from documentation to collaboratively-conceived forms of representation—using digital media in both physical and virtual exhibition—always mindful of the question, “Whose ends are being served?” Research conceived on these terms can reach across the often formidable barriers of difference

Axinn 219

“Latino migrant workers on VT farms: exploring barriers of race, ethnicity and language”

Facilitator: Cheryl Mitchell (Middlebury College)

Gaining understanding of the many unseen and unheard workers in Vermont frames this workshop. We will examine some of the ways Latino migrant workers have sought greater justice in Vermont, paying particular attention to issues of “voice,” communication, and language. This workshop also provides an opportunity to reflect on the challenges these workers and their allies face as they seek social and economic justice, and full inclusion in Vermont society. Role playing in small groups will enable participants to consider diverse perspectives and experiences that shape this subject.

Axinn 220

“People, place, and policy: African Americans and land”

Facilitators: Danyelle O’Hara (Independent scholar) and Mistinguette Smith (Black/Land Project)

In this participatory workshop, Mistinguette Smith and Danyelle O’Hara will ask participants to explore their connections to and situate themselves in an America’s history that contextualizes African Americans’ relationship to land and place in the U.S.  Then, using race as a lens for understanding new connections between people, land, policy and place, presenters and participants will explore the critical conversations this new perspective demands of us.

2:30-2:45pm           Break

2:45-3:15pm           Wrap up and reflection

Co-facilitators: Kathryn Morse (Department of History and Environmental Studies, Middlebury College), Kenneth Williams (Class of 2012), Alexandria Jackman (Class of 2014), Katherine Macfarlane (Class of 2012)

Axinn 229

Program in Environmental Studies

Franklin Environmental Center at Hillcrest
531 College Street
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753