So much of what we know of clean water, clean air, and now a stable climate rests on how fossil fuels first disrupted them. Negative Ecologies is a bold reappraisal of the outsized role fossil fuels have played in making the environment visible, factual, and politically operable in North America. Following stories of hydrocarbon harm that lay the groundwork for environmental science and policy, this book brings into clear focus the dialectic between the negative ecologies of fossil fuels and the ongoing discovery of the environment. Exploring iconic sites of the oil economy, ranging from leaky Caribbean refineries to deepwater oil spills, from the petrochemical fallout of plastics manufacturing to the extractive frontiers of Canada, Negative Ecologies documents the upheavals, injuries, and disasters that have long accompanied fossil fuels and the manner in which our solutions have often been less about confronting the cause than managing the effects. This history of our present promises to re-situate scholarly understandings of fossil fuels and renovate environmental critique today. David Bond challenges us to consider what forms of critical engagement may now be needed to both confront the deleterious properties of fossil fuels and envision ways of living beyond them.
About the Author
David Bond teaches anthropology and environment at Bennington College, where he also helps direct the Center for Advancement of Public Action (CAPA).
"Negative Ecologies provides a genuinely new historical analysis and nuanced ethnographic portrayal of the empire of oil. Bond captures a fundamental paradox of the taken-for-granted status of environmental management tools—thresholds and impact assessments— and specifically their role as gatekeepers, determining at what levels harm is constituted as safe, acceptable, and without corporate liability. Negative Ecologies is a must-read." — American Anthropologist