Archaeology of Environmental Inequality

Author(s): Sarah E. Cowie

Year: 2016


The relationships between biopolitics and processes of capitalism and industrialization have come under increasing scrutiny by activists in the environmental justice movement.  Ethnographic studies in modern industrialized (and industrializing) societies demonstrate marked environmental inequality, particularly disadvantageous to racialized groups and working-class communities.  These discriminatory practices have resulted in the disempowerment of marginalized populations, loss of land, contamination of natural resources, and sickening of human populations.  While environmental injustices have been explored through ethnographic research in recent times and through historical anthropology, few archaeological studies have addressed this type of discrimination.  This paper explores environmental inequality from an archaeological perspective, with particular attention to a case study of the 19th-century company town of Fayette, Michigan.  There, working class residents who were mostly foreign-born experienced environmental discrimination in the form of an industrial waste dump known as Slag Beach, which was located adjacent to and within their neighborhood. 

Cite this Record

Archaeology of Environmental Inequality. Sarah E. Cowie. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434439)


Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 473