Institut des Hautes Etudes de l'Amérique latine
Centre de recherche et de documentation sur les Amériques

TEA #7

Vendredi 20 mai 2022, 15H30-17H30


[TEA] AXE Transition Écologiques Americaines



En salle 4.122 (4ème étage du bâtiment de recherche sud | Campus Condorcet)

En ligne au lien de connexion suivant.



« Desalination and the Cooptation of the Environmental Justice Frame »

Avec Brian F. O’Neill  (Université de l'Illinois et CREDA) (article co-publié avec Anne-Lise Boyer), séance en anglais et en français.


The Claude "Bud" Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, the largest in the United States (Credit:San Diego CountyWater Authority)


Abstract : The environmental justice (EJ) frame is a key feature of successful grassroots mobilization against the uneven distribution of environmental problems. But what happens when this discursive framework is questioned – when basic features of its established definition are made to serve, rather than contest, industry? The article examines this dynamic through an ethnography of a high-volume desalination (potable ocean water) proposal and builds off prior research regarding the world-ecology of desalination (O’Neill 2020). The research findings indicate community groups and non- governmental organizations make normative EJ arguments about the high costs of desalination, community disruption, and industrial burden. Organized labor and public sector actors align with the private sector to promote desalination, using a competing series of arguments about high costs of alternatives, local independence, regional responsibility, and employment. Disentangling these discourses, the author argues that claims in favor of desalination are part of a cooptation process, conceived within the financial framework of “project finance” that ultimately facilitates community cleavage in favor of a class bias for a luxury commodity. Interpreting this socio-ecological problem through a political economic lens, this research contributes to discussions about industrial infrastructure, calling scholars, activists, and decision-makers to attend to how environmental (in)justice politics adopts surprising meanings based upon social context amidst the expansion of financial capitalism.


Keywords : Environmental (in)justice framing, environmental sociology, financialization of nature; political economy, political ecology of water, desalination, social class, Latinx communities, locally unwanted land uses.


Voir un article en français : « Comprendre la politique du dessalement : une approche par le terrain »  par Brian F. O’Neill. 




Retrouvez le programme 2021-2022 au lien suivant.


Contact David Dumoulin

Campus Condorcet | Bâtiment de recherche sud | 5, cours des Humanités, 93322, Aubervilliers