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Title:Visualizing Environmental Politics
Author(s):O'Neill, Brian
Subject(s):Environmental Politics
Desalination Project
Abstract:Photography is useful to the sociologist because it can function as a passport into people’s lives. Photographs are also as veritable time capsules. I find small details and layers in images that can be used in further analysis and reflection. Panoramas are especially well-suited to this – they capture more than the human eye can see in a single instant. In this image, a group of citizens gather one evening in Southern California to discuss their concerns about a large-scale desalination project (turning the ocean into potable water) that was proposed for their city. Many are worried about the ecological impact of salty waste discarded in the ocean. Others fear extensive construction and community disruption. I conducted a year of fieldwork, living and working with these people every day, which allowed me to unpack their additional concerns about money in politics. Whose interest is being served? they ask. As I combed through the thousands of images I took during my research, this image jumped out at me. Residents are filing into a townhall, and a homemade sign greets them. It reads: “Who are you going to believe? … dedicated community members or paid lobbyists?” This is visualizing environmental politics.
Issue Date:2021
Description:To all of my research collaborators in California and elsewhere that were involved in this project. I could never have done this work without you understanding and guidance along the way.
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Brian O'Neill
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-04-12

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