Creative Works

Play: Race and Waste in an Aluminum Town (2016)

“What will you do now that you know?” Race and Waste in an Aluminum Town. Swain Studio, UNC Chapel Hill. February 2017. Photo credit: Raksha Vasudevan 

Playwright: Pavithra Vasudevan

Director: Joseph Megel of StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance

This ethnographic play dramatizes the oral histories of African American industrial workers and residents of West Badin, a segregated company town in North Carolina. The play draws on oral history interviews conducted jointly by Naeema Muhammad (Organizing Co-director, NCEJN) and myself, as well as ethnographic data and archival materials.

Noor and I introduce the cast of my research play,
Race and Waste in an Aluminum Town, Swain Studio, UNC Chapel Hill.

February 2017. Photo credit: Raksha Vasudevan

“In this moment, it is essential that we witness and hear authentic stories about real people in North Carolina. This play brings us closer to the lives and struggles of West Badin’s residents, and seems to be a reflection of the histories of many industrial towns in North Carolina.”

– Joseph Megel, Director

In the media: “Pollution, death taint former Alcoa company town

Watch a clip here; please contact me if you would like to watch the entire play.


Poem: “The Day the Shadows Separated” by Pavithra Vasudevan in Behind the Whirlwind (2014) (p.9)


Film: Remembering Kearneytown (2012)

Remembering Kearneytown (2012) is a video collaboration exploring Warren County’s environmental history with community leader, environmental advocate and community-engaged research consultant Rev. Bill Kearney. In the film, Rev. Kearney, assistant pastor at Coley Springs Baptist Church located just two miles from the landfill site, calls for his community to reclaim their legacy of environmental justice and develop a healthy relationship to the environment.

This short film offers a helpful introduction to Warren County, known as the “Birthplace of Environmental Justice” and may be paired for teaching with my article describing the methodology of Critical Performance Ethnography, or a second article, co-authored with Rev. Kearney, on how filmmaking may intervene in how racialized places are visualized and remembered.