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Title:Resistance and waste work: Women’s environmentalism in Southern Italy
Author(s):Bonatti, Valeria
Director of Research:Gille, Zsuzsa
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Liao, Tim; Gille, Zsuzsa
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Bayat, Asef; Ghamari-Tabrizi, Behrooz; Miraftab, Faranak
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Social Movements
Abstract:This dissertation analyzes how the implementation of the European Union Waste Directives is shaping gender and ethnic relationships in the region of Campania, Italy, an area with an extensive history of illegal dumping and toxic waste contamination. Through ethnographic and archival methods, I examine how women of different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds strive to address issues of pollution, illegal dumping and toxic waste contamination in various spheres of life, including family, workplace and civil society. The work begins with a review of the history and of the epistemological frameworks underlying the study of the environment and of waste management in Italy. Drawing on neoliberal globalization scholarship, in Chapters 1 and 2 I highlight how the overwhelming prevalence of nation-state policy frameworks risk marginalizing considerations of gender, race and ethnicity from these studies. In the third chapter (Chapter 3) I refer to environmental justice environment to engage with the emergence of maternal politics among working-class Italian women in rural districts, drawing attention to these groups' strategic use of traditional and even stereotypical understandings of gender roles -motherhood in particular – to obtain political legitimacy in the realms of a male-dominated civil society. In the following two chapters (Chapters 4 and 5), I focus on the role of women's work in promoting and enabling environmentally friendly behaviors in Italian society. Since the 2008 recession, many middle and working-class women have struggled to retain their jobs and further their careers. Drawing from their environmentalist agendas and beliefs, and on widespread stereotypes that women are better suited to care for the environment, many have taken to implementing green initiatives within their places of work. These experiences include creative, entrepreneurial initiatives, such as teachers designing sustainable waste management modules to high-school curricula and tour operators leading clean-up initiatives of landmark neighborhoods, as well as un-negotiable restructuring of job duties, as it is the case with foreign-born care workers taking on recycling duties for their employers. Although these efforts and tasks may provide a degree of visibility and job security, they also represent instances of unpaid labor performed by women: these observations provide a nuanced understanding of the role and politics of labor embedded into sustainability and development literatures, such as ecological modernization theory and the women-development nexus. By highlighting the role of disenfranchised migrant women in waste regimes, this research provides a new perspective on the global care chain and on the outsourcing of social reproduction.
Issue Date:2017-12-04
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Valeria Bonatti
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-03-13
Date Deposited:2017-12

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