Bread and poison - Environmental Conflicts

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Transcript Bread and poison - Environmental Conflicts

Stefania Barca
Bread and poison
The story of labor
environmentalism in Italy
The research story
• Environmental costs with a human face
• Embodying environmental history
• Work as the primary interface between
society and environment
Theoretical framework
• Social costs
• Risk society
• The labor/environment conflict (or else the job
• Labor environmentalism as one component of
the environmentalism of the poor
• strong objectivity = science from the perspective
of victims, marginalized and discriminated
• militant particularism = the local/global
connection of militancy
Research development
• Oral history interviews with Manfredonia
workers (insights into the workers’
experience and worldview)
• Union documents (insights into the
workers’ health movement)
• Interview with Massimo Menegozzo;
articles from Sapere and Medicina
Democratica magazines (insights into
militant science)
The research outcomes
• General: importance of the politicaleconomy scenario with some historical
– The 1958-78 period
– The 1978-1998 period
Economic boom, oil crises, recession
Space differentiations (the North/South
Research Outcomes
strong objectivity works:
from the principle of non-delegation to the right of direct control over
the work environment;
militant or activist science is badly needed in order to grant legitimacy
to grassroots claims about environmental and health issues;
embodied knowledge is crucial in giving experts a stronger perception
of the issues at stake, so pushing them towards more grounded
research and better science. Knowledge as empowerment and class
Human health as a result of the broader capital-labor conflict and of
power relationhsips in society.
Importance of taking a proactive attitude questioning the very causes
of risk as linked to the organization of production within capitalist
Importance of workers’ knowledge about the production process in
order for activist-experts to formulate hypothesis and suggestions
Research outcomes
• Problematic role of labor organizations:
positive and proactive in the 1960s-1970s,
passive when not openly contrasting in the
1990s. how to explain this?
• The fordist paradox: workers’ rights and
social welfare can be expanded as long as
capitalist profits are expanding as well.
Research outcomes
• Bottom-up and participatory processes of
institutional reform can spur institutinal change
at the national level, but at the price of losing
momentum in terms of mobilization and at the
risk of remaining on paper without real local
– 1970: Statuto Lavoratori / 1972: SMAL / 1976:
Manfredonia accident / 1978: Riforma Sanitaria.
• From militant science to government: the case of
Open questions
• 1. how far can we understand this as EJ?
To what extent can we apply the EJ label
to struggles for workers’ and public health,
for social emancipation, for compensation
of damage?
• 2. how to conceptualize the active
contribution of women to the struggle,
within the given structure of gender
relationships at each time and space?
Future research
• Broaden the scope to a history of environmental
justice struggles around the italian
• connecting the many local struggles within a
national scenario of
– political economy and ecology (oil and natural gas)
– technology (steam cracking, plastics, fertilizers,
– law (a democratic Republic founded on labor; from
insurance and compensation to prevention and right
to health)