"Desalination as a New Frontier of Environmental Justice Struggle: A Dialogue with Oscar Rodriguez and Andrea León-Grossmann" by Brian F. O'Neill

Brian F O'Neill

Brian F. O'Neill is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Recently, Brian F. O'Neill just had a new article released titled "Desalination as a New Frontier of Environmental Justice Struggle: A Dialogue with Oscar Rodriguez and Andrea León-Grossmann". Click here to read the full article. 

Abstract: This interview begins a conversation about the social justice implications of an emerging socioecological concern—the desalination industry. Seawater desalination is the industrial process of creating drinking water from the ocean. This dialogue, with two activists at the forefront of contesting desalination in California, indicates how this practice, as a proposed climate adaptation strategy, is not just a matter of crafting governance reforms allowing non-state actors to price water for the purposes of efficient management, or “drought-proofing.” Instead, they highlight the ways in which the environmental justice movement now faces a world-system of shareholder, equity-partnered, and pension-funded capitalism that is fragmenting nature and crafting an ever more abstract social nature into various, segmented resource types. As the dialogue describes, desalination is not pursued for the purposes of developing affordable and sustainable water management solutions alone, but for investment in long-duration fixed capital “assets.” This piece further facilitates the programs of environmental sociology and political ecology by engaging various publics in developing a community of critical praxis. As such, the dialogue carves out new terrains of theory and action at the frontiers of nature, water, and society.

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