Title page for ETD etd-06302005-121732

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Flanagan, Charles Allen
Author's Email Address cflanag@lsu.edu
URN etd-06302005-121732
Title Mapping the Other Truth in the Shintech Case: Emancipatory Mapping for Environmental Justice in South Louisiana
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Department Geography & Anthropology
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kent Mathewson Committee Chair
Craig Colten Committee Member
Helen Regis Committee Member
Paul Templet Committee Member
Max Conrad Dean's Representative
  • critical theory
  • henri lefebvre
  • gis
  • shintech
  • environmental justice
  • emancipatory mapping
Date of Defense 2005-05-18
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation presents an alternative mapping approach which challenges the hegemony of abstract space and instrumental reason propagated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in its 1998 study of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality's (DEQ) permitting process. The "other truth" is presented through application of concepts from critical theory, critical geography, and the works of Henri Lefebvre to a specific environmental justice struggle in St. James Parish, Louisiana.

In 1996 Shintech, Inc. proposed building a polyvinyl chloride facility in St. James Parish, Louisiana. The community, concerned about the considerable toxic burden already present in the area, formed a grassroots environmental group, St. James Citizens for Jobs and the Environment (SJCJE) to fight the plant location. A chief concern of the SJCJE was the potential adverse health impact of the proposed facility on the health of the community's children. Working with the SJCJE, I created maps to illustrate their concerns.

The EPA created a series of maps as part of their investigation which attempt to superimpose abstract space onto social space of the local community. I critiqued the EPA maps using concepts from critical theory, critical geography, and Lefebvre. The EPA maps are biased in favor of the status quo.

While the EPA maps take the petrochemical facilities in the area as their central organizing principle, my maps are community-oriented. The maps I produced for the SJCJE are centered on the schools in the community and one of the more populated areas.

My alternative mapping approach is not a replacement for the EPA's work but rather a necessary complement. The mapping approach I demonstrate is a move toward emancipatory mapping.

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