Last month, Middlebury College in Vermont hosted “Land and Justice: A Symposium on Race, Ethnicity, and Environment,” and Roosevelt University Sustainability Studies Professor Carl Zimring participated as the symposium’s keynote speaker. The interdisciplinary symposium featured discussions on the passage of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the second is increased global attention to the role of policies aimed at “Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation” (REDD), the overrepresentation of workers of color in dangerous sectors of the food chain in the United States, and telling American history that contextualizes African Americans’ relationship to land and place in the U.S., as well as workshops on Latino migrant farm workers in Vermont and qualitative ethnographic methods that allow research subjects to express their relationships to place.
Zimring, a historian of American waste management practices, was invited to talk about his current research into the relationship between race and hygiene in American society during the Gilded Age. Using racist soap and cleanser advertisements in his presentation, Zimring discussed some of the ways advertisers, sociologists, and working-class Americans described hygiene in racist terms. Further, he explored some of the consequences of these stereotypes, including a new emphasis on cleanliness to white identity, the marketing of cleaning products to bolster that emphasis, and some environmental inequalities involving waste management that emerged by the early twentieth century.
This work extends themes in Zimring’s first book Cash for Your Trash: Scrap Recycling in America and is part of a new book project he is writing entitled Clean and White. Zimring is scheduled to teach SUST 210 The Sustainable Future online this summer and online again this fall. If you are interested in taking these or any courses in RU’s Sustainability Studies program, please contact your academic advisor for registration details and consultations on financial aid options. If you are not currently a Roosevelt University student, we encourage you to investigate our degree options and our course listings. For more information, please visit our Sustainability Studies website, call 1-877-277-5978 (1-877-APPLY RU) or email applyRU@roosevelt.edu.