Toxic Disasters, Biopolitics, and Corrosive Communities: Guiding Principles in the Quest for Healing in Flint, Michigan

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13 Scopus citations


The Flint water crisis occurs at a time when local and global social justice struggles seek to restore the rights of the individual through collective action. This article moves beyond traditional environmental justice arguments of race and class or even debating the rights and wrongs of the Flint water crisis to a more nuanced understanding of ongoing environmental toxic contamination in an age of increased risks, uncertainties, and biopolitics. As the Flint story unfolded in Congressional testimony, legislative hearings, and the media, the public learned of clandestine deals that resulted in the state-sanctioned heavy metal poison contamination of thousands. The Flint water crisis is representative of a form of violent assault against the citizen's health, civic trust, and personhood. Because technological disasters, including those that result in toxic contamination, tend to disrupt or permanently damage the social fabric of the communities where they occur, it is important that we understand how to restore a sense of community facilitation, the repair of social and cultural bonds. This article is not designed to bring forth new revelations of guilt or innocence. Rather, the article advances the environmental justice literature by bridging the knowledge gap in therapeutic justice in corrosive communities. It proposes a framework to serve as a catalyst for healing in a community suffering from toxic uncertainty caused by a shift from policies based on a reliance on rights-based politics to a more ominous notion of decision making rooted in biopolitics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-75
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironmental Justice
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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