Toxic Alchemy: Black Life and Death in Industrial Capitalism (forthcoming)
Toxic Alchemy tells a story of the earth’s destruction that troubles environmentalist master narratives which center the anthropogenic climate change as the cause of contemporary environmental devastation. Building on the anticolonial praxis of Frantz Fanon and Sylvia Wynter, Toxic Alchemy is a sociogenic ethnography of industrial capitalism, and is the first in-depth transdisciplinary examination of race and waste in aluminum production. It theorizes the relationship of Blackness to industrial capitalism through an ethnographically grounded re-examination of aluminum smelting in the Southern United States. In the segregated company town of Badin, North Carolina, former aluminum workers and their families are engaged in a protracted struggle regarding contamination with Alcoa, Inc. (formerly the Aluminum Company of America), a multinational giant whose development tracks alongside and reflects U.S. imperial history. In the Black enclave of West Badin, residents struggle to reconcile the loyalty, pride and purpose they gained from contributing to industrial production, with a growing sense of their disposability to the company, the town, and the nation-state. Toxic Alchemy reframes the significance of Black geographies such as Badin, places whose destruction appears incidental, yet is constitutive of modernity; capital, state, and science have materially entangled Black bodies and ecologies into the very infrastructures of modernity. Black life and death have infused aluminum, endowing inorganic substance with vitality and value, and in turn, aluminum production has embedded industrial detritus into Black bodies and ecologies, reproducing corporeal and spatial disposability.
Toxic Alchemy models a decolonial geopoetics and interweaves dramatized ethnographic vignettes with elements of speculative thought, documentary poetry, and popular science writing, offering readers a creative entrée into understanding Black precarity as fundamental to global capitalism. Written as a montage of ethnography, history, philosophy, science, performance and poetry, Toxic Alchemy testifies to the fragmentation of life under colonial-racial capitalism.
2020. FLOCK (Collective authorship). “Student-led Activism for Racial Justice: Ruptures I, Pedagogy and Transformation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.” ACME. Special issue: “Controversy in Anti-Oppression Pedagogies: Feminist Geographic Perspectives,” Nicole Laliberte and Alison Bain, eds. (Accepted with minor revisions).
2020. Elizabeth S. McClure, Pavithra Vasudevan, Nathan DeBono, Whitney R. Robinson, Stephen Marshall and David Richardson. “Cancer and Non-Cancer Mortality Among Aluminum Smelting Workers in Badin, North Carolina.” American Journal of Industrial Medicine. DOI: 10.1002/ajim.23150.
2020. Pavithra Vasudevan and Sara Smith (First author). “The Domestic Geopolitics of Racial Capitalism. Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space. DOI: 10.1177/2399654420901567.
2019. Pavithra Vasudevan. “An Intimate Inventory of Race and Waste.” Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography. DOI: 10.1111/anti.12501.
2018. Mabel Gergan, Sara Smith and Pavithra Vasudevan (Equal authorship). “Earth Beyond Repair: Race and Apocalypse in Collective Imagination.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space: 0263775818756079.
2015. Pavithra Vasudevan and William A. Kearney (First author). “Remembering Kearneytown: Race, Place and Collective Memory in Collaborative Filmmaking.” Area 48 (4): 455-462. 2015.
2014. Siobhan Senier, Anthony Lioi, Mary Kate Ryan, Pavithra Vasudevan, Angel Nieves, Darren Ranco and Courtney Marshall. “The Resilience of Race: A Cultural Sustainability Manifesto.” Resilience: A Journal of the Environmental Humanities 1 (2).
2012. Pavithra Vasudevan. “Performance and Proximity: Revisiting Environmental Justice in Warren County, North Carolina,” Performance Research 17 (4): 18-26.
(In Press) Pavithra Vasudevan. “Brown Scholar, Black Studies: On Suffering, Witness & Materialist Relationality.” Feminist Geography Unbound: Intimacy, Territory, and Embodied Power. West Virginia University Press. Banu Gökarıksel, Michael Hawkins, Christopher Neubert, & Sara Smith, eds.
(Forthcoming). Chris Neubert, Sara Smith and Pavithra Vasudevan(Equal authorship). “The Intimate Geopolitics of Race and Gender in the United States.” Routledge International Handbook of Gender and Feminist Geographies, Anindita Datta, Peter Hopkins, Lynda Johnston, Elizabeth Olson, and Joseli Maria Silva, eds.
2018. Donna Houston and Pavithra Vasudevan. “Storytelling Environmental Justice: Cultural Studies Approaches.” In Routledge Handbook of Environmental Justice. Ryan Holifield, Jayajit Chakraborty, and Gordon Walker, eds.: 241-251.
2019. Sara Smith, Pavithra Vasudevan, Carlos Serrano and Banu Gökarıksel. “Breaking Families: Whiteness, State Violence, and the Alienable Rights of Kin.” Political Geography. DOI: 10.1016/j.polgeo.2019.01.001
Edited special issues
2017. Sara Smith and Pavithra Vasudevan, eds (Equal authorship). “Race, Biopolitics and the Future: Introduction to the Special Section.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 35 (2): 210-221.
(Accepted by Editor) Pavithra Vasudevan. “Conscience of the Nation: the Leadership of Dollie Burwell and Naeema Muhammad.” Practical Visionaries: Women of Color and Indigenous Women in the North American Environmental Movement, Anuja Mendiratta and Beth Rose Middleton, eds.
2016. Atiya Husain, Pavithra Vasudevan and Neel Ahuja. “Islamophobia & Anti-Blackness: A Call to Action at UNC.” Monsoon: A Platform for South Asian Affairs, 3: 6.Available: http://monsoon.web.unc.edu/islamophobia-anti-blackness-a-call-to-action-at-unc-by-atiya-husain-pavithra-vasudevan-and-neel-ahuja/
2013. Pavithra Vasudevan. “Linking Struggles to Build the Movement – Report-back from the NCEJN Summit.” Blog post. Available: http://www.ncejn.org/
2008. Women’s Environment and Development Organization. “Gender, Climate Change and Human Security: Lessons from Bangladesh, Ghana, and Senegal” (Unpublished working paper), Contributor. Available: http://www.wedo.org/wp-content/uploads/hsn-study-final-may-20-2008.pdf