A 2023 Choice Reviews Outstanding Academic Title
Where is the space for contemporary environmentalism when both the utopian promises of a clean and pure earthly Eden and the dystopian prophecies of an environmental apocalypse have failed to be fully realized? As this book argues, rather than falling into one of these familiar environmental categories, contemporary space is configured as heterotopia, as in-between spaces of dissonance, where encounters with waste are a daily occurrence and where dirty matter refuses to submit to human demands and intentions. Through an exploration of a series of spaces in which acts of leisure and recreation are configured alongside vibrant dirty matter, Tom Bowers explores how contemporary heterotopia offers entanglements with a dirty other that promote novel opportunities for humans to ethically respond and be responsible to the continued presence of waste and to generate a sense of ecological care for a dirty world. In doing so, the book urges readers away from a utopian vision of what the environment should be and instead asks how we can ethically exist within and around the dirtied environment as it is. This book will be of interest to scholars of cultural studies, environmental rhetorics, and environmental ethics.
Tom Bowers is associate professor of English at Northern Kentucky University.
Chapter 1: The Inescapable Presence of Dirty Matter
Chapter 2: The Potential of Dissonance and Heterotopia
Chapter 3: Beyond Sustainability: Relationality, Uncertainty, and the Responsible Posthuman Environmental Public
Chapter 4: Reorientations to Risk
Chapter 5: The Ethics of Agency in a Dirty World
Rather than professing an idealistic view of how people should treat the environment, Bowers wants readers to imagine how to creatively and responsibly engage with how to work with industrial waste materials, inasmuch as they are regrettably here to stay. Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates. Graduate students and faculty. General readers.
In "Environmentalism and Contemporary Heterotopia," Thomas Bowers astutely argues for a new discourse to inform environmental consciousness and advocacy, one that resists the polarized rhetoric of the ecologically clean or collapsed, while firmly situating itself within the reality of waste. This book offers an urgent and influential ecological reality check. The dirtied spaces are here to stay, and we need to learn how to work with them and talk about them in a way that promotes ethical and creative use of our wastelands and waste materials. This book is a sharp investigation and necessary step in that direction.
Environmentalism and Contemporary Heterotopia is a major intervention in environmental rhetoric. With fascinating, theoretically-informed case studies of ecological spaces in which humans and their waste interact in unexpected, even productive ways, Tom Bowers calls for a new rhetoric of environmentalism—one that accounts for and interprets the ethical dimensions of human emplacement in a dirty world.