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Resigned ActivismLiving with Pollution in Rural China$
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Anna Lora-Wainwright

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262036320

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262036320.001.0001

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“Toxic Culture”: The Spectrum and Origins of Resigned Activism

“Toxic Culture”: The Spectrum and Origins of Resigned Activism

(p.59) 3 “Toxic Culture”: The Spectrum and Origins of Resigned Activism
Resigned Activism

Anna Lora-Wainwright

The MIT Press

Chapter 3 begins to flesh out the contours of resigned activism through the case of Baocun village, a major site for phosphorous mining and fertiliser production. It shows how industrialisation deeply diversified the local population, ranging from poor migrants to wealthy business owners and bore unequal effects on them: while some are better positioned to take advantage of opportunities, others suffer a precarious existence affected by socio-economic marginality and the slow violence of environmental health harm. It focuses most closely on unfolding processes of resignation among the migrant population—who stand to suffer the most from pollution—and poor locals. The chapter illustrates how financial dependence on polluting activities is a form of “disaffective labour” (cf. Hardt 1999) which pushes migrant workers and poor locals to take pollution and their precarious position for granted. They regard toxicity as a part of the natural environment and environmental afflictions on the body as “normal”. In this context, the value of life and parameters to define it are slowly but firmly altered.

Keywords:   Resigned activism, Uneven development, Social stratification, Environmental injustice, Migrant workers, Poverty, Pollution, Rural China

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