The goal of this study was to examine culture, risk and security in everyday life in post-socialist Romania. The research question which I seek to answer through this study is: How do communist values and ideology affect people’s lives in Romania today, fifteen years after the collapse of the communist regime? I have researched and analyzed the writings of anthropologists, political scientists, sociologist, and economists.
My research on the anthropological literature about Romania reveals that Verdery (1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999), is a major contributor. She has written extensively on topics such as ethnic conflicts (Romanian-Germans, Romanians-Hungarians, Romanians and Roma/Gypsies) as well as post-socialists issues such as redistribution and political nationalism. Kligman’s work concerns women’s status in society and, concentrates women’s reproductive rights under, communist Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu (1998). She has also pursed these topics with Gal (Gal and Kligman 2000).
Some anthropological and sociological research has addressed people’s memories of the transition from communism and how the transition affects people’s lives today. Theoretically important to my study are Connerton’s piece on collective memory various historical eras, such as the French Revolution and the Crusades (1989) and Watson’s writing on memories in communist China (1994). Esbenshade has also been a key contributor by exploring what post-socialist government chose to remember in East-Central Europe (1995).
Most of the anthropological and related research on the post-socialist world in Eastern Europe has concentrated on states rather than people. It thus lacks important information about the cultural impact of communism on contemporary people’s lives in post-communist context. The focus on more macro political trends was prompted, at least in part, by the opportunity of studying this unique aspect of political change. The dominant focus on the state, however, should be shifted to a central focus on people. Along this line, Kligman and Verdery are beginning to undertake research that is more people-close; an example is Kligman’s (1998) study on reproduction and Verdery’s (1999) study of reburial as an act of post-socialist change.
Burawoy, Michael and Katherine Verdery. Eds. 1999.
Uncertain Transition: Ethnographies of Change in the Post socialist World Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
This is a collection of ethnographies studies and documents, cultural change in post-socialist, Russia and Eastern Europe. Authors include anthropologists, political scientists and a sociologist. Chapters describe local responses to institution transformations in Russia, Romania, Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, in this time of transition.
Connerton, Paul. 1989.
How Societies Remember (Themes in Social Science). New York: Cambridge University Press
This book provides an innovative introduction to social memory. It concentrates on how incorporated practices become traditions. The author argues that images and recollected knowledge of the past are conveyed through performance rituals and commemorative practices, thus becoming traditions.
Drazin, Adam. 2002
Chasing Moths: Cleanliness Intimacy and Progress in Romanian. In Ruth Mandel and Caroline Humphrey, eds. Markets and Moralities: Ethnographies of Post-Socialism New York: Berg Publishers 2002, 101-126
This ethnographic study emphasizes domestic life in Romania. Focusing on post socialist changes in attitudes towards practices of cleaning and decorating the home in relation to international markets and influences. Demonstrating how products sold by Amway can be used to analyze domestic economic change in Romania, Drazin illustrates an image of change in the economy. Drazin explores how the symbolism of cleanliness became essential to Romania’s transition to democracy.
Esbenshade, Richard S. 1995.
Memory, History, National Identity in Postwar East-Central Europe. Representations 49, Special Issue: Identifying Histories: Eastern Europe Before and After 1989. University of California Press. 72-96
This essay deals with the selective memory of former socialist governments in Eastern Europe. Specifically Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany. Analyzing methods of memory, Esbenshade looks at what states chose to remember. Restorations and compensation of the governments to the people in these countries has allowed for progression toward democracy.
Field, John. 2003.
Social Capital. New York: Routledge
Field introduces social capital. He discuses the concept’s roots in the ideas of Pierre Bourdieu, James Coleman and Robert Putman. This work focuses on the effect of social capital on society and government institutions. Defining social capital as based in social networks, Field emphasizes the importance of social relationships to access vital resources in society.
Access to resources
Gal, Susan and Gail Kligman. Eds. 2000
The Politics of Gender after Socialism A Comparative Historical Essay. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press
This book offers an analysis that integrates gender into the understanding of rapid transformation of Eastern Europe. The study seeks to centralize gender rights into the greater process of transformation by focusing on two questions: how gender relations and ideas about gender shape political and economic change in the region, and what forms of gender inequality are being shaped.
Blurred Boundaries: The Discourse of Corruption, the Culture of Politics and the Imagined State. American Ethnologist, 22 (2): 375 – 402.
Gupta analyzes discourse about contemporary corruption of translocal institutions, within the context of India. Examining the practices of lower level bureaucrats in a small north Indian town as well as the mass media on the state level, Gupta focuses on the European distinctions between state and civil society, and how the notions apply to his case study.
Humphrey, Caroline. 1994
Remembering an “Enemy”: The Bogd Khann in Twentieth-Century Mongolia in Rubie Watson. Ed. Memory, History, and Opposition Under State Socialism. Santa Fe, New Mexico: School of American Research Press
Developing the idea of “evocative transcript” as a method of memory, to explain the notion of “non-oppositional opposition. As a common resource that is available to everyone in Mongolian society. Humphrey demonstrates how jokes, written texts and various actions may invoke a double life in which anyone may be come suspect or victim, in a former socialist environment.
Humphrey, Caroline. 1999
Traders, “Disorders,” and Citizenship Regimes in Provincial Russia in Michael Burawoy and Katherine Verdery, eds. 1999. Uncertain Transition: Ethnographies of Change in the Post socialist World. Lanham Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
This chapter describes the proliferation of Russian traders in Buryatia Russia, to new private conglomerates. Humphrey analyzes the source of popular anxiety in post- socialist Russia. Reflecting. Illustrating how the breakdown of Soviet structures has lead to the redistribution of collective, causing old interests to break down around new economic interest and hybrid institutions to emerge.
Kligman, Gail. 1998.
The Politics of Duplicity: Controlling Reproduction in Ceausescu’s Romania Berkeley: University of California Press
Analyzing the role of key figures, Kligman examines the reproductive policies of the Ceausescu regime and the population’s response. She draws connections between official polices under Ceausescu and the steps post socialist leaders took to change those polices.
Lancranjan, Ion. Katherine Verdery translated in 1996
Patriotism: A Vital Necessity In Gale Stokes ed. 1996 From Stalinism to Pluralism: A Documentary History of Eastern Europe since 1945. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. New York, York.
Writing for a Romanian audience about nationalism during Ceausescu rein, Lancranjan emphasizes characteristics, which are common to nationalist discourse in the context of increasing ethnic tensions between the Hungarians and Romanians in Transylvania. The chapter focuses on heroism, self-sacrifices and victimization as characteristics of the nationalism
Mandel, Ruth and Caroline Humphrey, eds. 2002.
Markets and Moralities: Ethnographies of Post-Socialism New York: Berg
Chapters in this collection of ethnographies address the effects of “shock therapy” in Russian and Eastern European markets. An underlying theme is the contradictions between the old, socialist moral values, and the new world market economies. This collection offers a glimpse into the harsh realities of life after socialism, through an anthropological perspective.
O’Rourke, P.J. 2000.
Dispatch: The Godfather Decade. An Encounter with Post-Soviet Corruption. Foreign Policy 121: 74-80.
Analyzing the media in Hungary, Romania and Ukraine, O’Rourke highlights corruption in the post-soviet era. He discusses Hungary’s capitalistic pigs, Romania’s cigarette colonels, and Ukraine’s red emotions. The article emphasizes the downturn of the countries with the fall of communism as an open gate for corruption.
Roman, Denise 2003.
Fragmented Identities: Popular Culture, Sex, and Everyday Life in Post-communist Romania. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books
Through Roman’s unique perspective as a native and scholar she depicts life in post-socialist Romania. This book focuses on the transformation of identity of the Romanian people in response to the west and to the end of socialism in the country.
Verdery, Katherine. 1991
Theorizing Socialism: A Prologue to the “Transition”. American Ethnologist 18 (3): 419-439
Highlighting the theoretical model of socialism used in her work in Romania, Verdery compares the ideas of several social theorists who have modified Marxism in order to analyze Eastern Europe. Verdery takes advantage of the opportunity to observe Eastern Europe’s transition to democracy from socialism, as internal organizations reconfigure their place within the global community.
Cultural and political anthropology
Verdery, Katherine. 1993.
Nationalism and National Sentiment in Post Socialist Romania. Slavic
Review 52 (2): 179-203
Offering alternatives to ancient hatred as an explanation of nationalism and national sentiment in Eastern Europe, Verdery disagrees with the notion that socialism suppressed intra-state ethnic conflict. Instead she insists that socialism aggravated the issue. She also considers how democratic politics and market economies highlighted the issues of inter-ethnic group problems in post socialist Romania.
Cultural and political anthropology
Verdery, Katherine. 1994.
Beyond the Nation in Eastern Europe. Social Text, 38: 1- 19
Verdery defines transnationalism in the context of Eastern Europe, specifically in Romania, building upon Arujn Appadurai’s work. She defines transnationalism as “process taking place across state borders.” Verdery emphasizes that national is of necessity transitionally constituted. This report highlights the difficulty which Romania as state and various ethnic groups face in
coming together as a nation.
Cultural and political anthropology
Verdery, Katherine. 1995.
National Ideology Under Socialism: Identity and Cultural Politics in Ceausescu's Romania. Berkeley: University of California Press
An ethno-history of intellectual discourse, Verdery’s study is grounded in contemporary theory. Questioning national identity and nationalism, she examines cultural changes and ethnic tensions through the current transformations in Romania. Verdery discuses how the actions of the intellectuals undermined Ceausescu’s regime.
Cultural and political anthropology
Verdery, Katherine. 1998.
Transationalism, Nationalism, Citizenship, and Property: Eastern Europe Since 1989. American Ethnologist, 25 (8): 291-306.
Verdery examines the themes of transtionalism, nationalism, and cultural identity. By treating transtionalism and nationalism as mutually constitutive, Verdery argues that the two ideals shape simultaneously and sequentially, as well as emphasizing how transtionalism nationalizes. Focusing on the topics of citizenship and property in Eastern Europe, she illustrates the challenges of transnationalism and nationalism occurring in Eastern Europe.
Citizen property rights
Cultural and political anthropology
Verdery, Katherine. 1999.
The Political Lives of Dead Bodies: Reburial and Post- Socialist Change. New York: Columbia University Press
Growing out of the 1997 Harriman Lectures, Verdery’s book. Focuses on two cases studies, which symbolize change and acceptance of a new era in post-socialist Europe. Verdery illustrates the transition, which is occurring in Romania and the former Yugoslavia, through the reburial of important people as a process of reconciliation with the socialist era.
Cultural and political anthropology
Watson, Rubie S. ed. 1994.
Memory, History, and Opposition Under State Socialism. Santa Fe, New Mexico: School of American Research Press.
A result of a workshop held at the School of American Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this collection of ethnographic studies address memories of socialist life in various contexts including: Mongolia, Post-Mao China, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Georgia. Chapter focus on the differences between official histories and the history which is remembered by the people.
Socially Constructed Identity Categories and Decision-Makers’ Approach to Risk Management
Jacqueline S. Johnson
In exploring the relationships between culture, risk and security in various cultural contexts, one inevitably discovers human communities’ vulnerability to risk and security. Identity criteria such as race, ethnicity, indigenousness and/or class shape people’s experiences of risk and security. My research examines if and how identity criteria influence risk and security agents such as public policy makers’ decision-making processes.
For the most part, my findings suggest that identity criteria strongly influence decision-making practices of policy makers. One way to conceptualize how race, ethnicity, indigenousness and/or class affect determinants of risk and security is to view the identity criteria as social constructs. Social constructs relate to the social realities and categories that societies create to characterize human differences, maintain social order in societies and effectuate power (Brodkin, 2000; Harrison, 1995). Identity criteria as social constructs create exclusionary relationships in the decision making process, contending that certain communities are more vulnerable than others to risk and security. For example, several authors highlight the historical precedence of racism and its discriminatory practices to explain public policy makers’ lack of response to environmental racism, resulting in the persistence of environmental injustice. Authors such as Lipuma and Metzoff (2005) and Field (2003) focus on the intersecting social structures of class and ethnicity to suggest that limited economic power and access to resources often exclude minorities from certain public policy decision-making processes. On the international level, Michael Barnett explores international bureaucracies’ indifference toward implementing policies that reduce violence and conflict (1997). Barnett’s investigation of the United Nations’ indifference toward the Rwandan genocide is due, in large part, to the interests of Rwanda being situated outside the scope of the interests of the international community. Several authors also suggest that indigenousness influence policy makers’ in that policy-makers rely on expert knowledge in implementing policies for local communities (Kirsch, 2001; Stephen 2002).
As the previously mentioned sources pinpoint unfavorable effects when policy makers consider identity criteria, I found several sources that suggest focusing on identity criteria may be conducive to public policy makers’ decision-making practices. For example, Buttedahl urges policymakers to consider race, class and indigenousness as human security concerns (1997). Buttedahl supports her claim by suggesting that policy makers’ consideration of such identity criteria will reduce incidents of human conflict. In Color-coded Cures, Kingland examines how medicines and cures based on biological factors could eventually affect health policies and possibly stem research toward improving health conditions of ethnic minority communities (2006).
Are certain populations marginalized when identity criteria is considered in public policy decision-making processes? What are the alternatives to considering identity criteria in the decision-making process? How shall anthropologists get involved (or do ethnographies) in the decision making process to identify and describe human groups most vulnerable to risk and security? As existing research suggests policy makers’ decisions are influenced by identity criteria, future research should further investigate the inquiries previously cited to advance discussions relating to communities’ vulnerability to risk and security.
Austin, Regina and Michael Schill 1994
Black, Brown, Red and Poisoned. In Unequal Protection. Robert Bullard, ed. Pp. 53-76. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.
Austin and Schill’s legal discussion addresses the challenges such as covert indoctrinated practices and laws that communities of color face in their fight for environmental justice. The authors establish their findings based on viewpoints expressed by individuals and various organizations involved in the environmental justice movement. Among several arguments the authors make, they suggest that the environmental decision-making process excludes minorities and that the mainstream environmental organizations’ goals often overshadow grassroots organizations’ goals.
Comparative/general environmental racism
Barnett, Michael N. 1997
The U.N. Security Council, Indifference and Genocide in Rwanda. Current Anthropology 12(4): 551-578.
Barnett asserts that bureaucratic indifference toward peacemaking efforts in civil war-ravaged Rwanda stem from Rwandan “security interests” being outside of the international community bureaucracies’ “interests.” Interests of bureaucracies are influenced by but are not limited to economic and political power, and identity criteria such as race, religion and gender. Barnett uses data and documentation collected while serving as a political advisor for the mandated United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda.
Brodkin, Karen 2000
Global Capitalism: What’s Race Got To Do With It? American Ethnologist 27(2): 237-256.
Global capitalism shapes the formation of state power and nationalism, which also affects public policy in the process. Brodkin draws from the case study of Jewish communities and women in the U.S. capitalist labor-force to develop her argument that global capitalism is linked to the social constructs of race, class and gender. Brodkin’s analysis of the historically linked transformations among race, class and gender help anthropologists conceptualize the mutual relationships of social constructs in global capitalism.
Buttedahl, Paz 1997
Viewpoint: True Measures of Human Security. Ottawa: International Development Research Centre. IDRC: Resources: Books: Reports 22 (3).
Buttedahl’s report suggests the urgent need of a conceptual model that alerts appropriate national and international actors, early on, of potential conflicts among human populations. Buttedahl’s proposed conceptual model departs from the traditional state-centered framework and moves toward a human-centered development and security framework and a risk analysis framework. The report urges policy makers in their development of foreign policies to consider and address human security concerns such as ethnicity, religion, the environment, governance, economy and human rights. Otherwise incidents of human conflict will occur.
Risk analysis framework
Checker, Melissa 2005
Polluted Promises: Environmental Racism and the Search for Justice in a Southern Town. New York: New York University Press.
Checker uses an innovative anthropological methodology combining archival research and participatory environmental activism. Her focus is on Hyde Park, a low-income southern U.S. African-American community in Georgia. Through activist ethnography, Checker provides scholars and general reading audiences with first hand knowledge of the environmental injustices that face the Hyde Park community and similar communities. Checker argues that the historical precedence of racism and its discriminatory practices contributes to the persistence of environmental injustice.
Environmental (social and ecological) pollution
Farmer, Paul 2004
An Anthropology of Structural Violence. Current Anthropology 45(3): 305-323.
Farmer’s essay on structural violence, as used to describe the cultural context of an impoverished Haitian community, provides theoretical insights about discriminatory decision-making practices, which affect less powerful people. Structural violence is an analytical concept used by anthropologists to elucidate the historical embedded social structures imposed on oppressed communities.
Feinman, Gary M. and Christopher T. Fisher 2005
The Dangers of Ignoring the Evidence: Hurricanes, Hazards and Survival. Anthropology News 46(8): 20.
Feinman and Fisher assert that a long-term perspective, human decisions, environment and unintentional consequences must be considered collectively in responding to situations of catastrophe. The anthropologists’ brief commentary, regarding the catastrophic events resulting from hurricanes Katrina and Rita may serve as a helpful research starting point for anthropologists examining decision-makers’ preparedness and response to disasters, and their possible social biases and blinders.
Field, John 2003
Social Capital. New York: Routledge.
Field’s approach to social capital is an analytical tool to conceptualize how social networks, membership, and contacts affect peoples’ vulnerability to risk and security. For instance, race and class are considered strong indicators of accessibility to resources and power; hence, exclusion from public policy development and decision-making processes.
Fosher, Kerry and Stacey Lathrop 1996-2006
Human Practices Reveal Problems of Emergency Preparedness: How Anthropologists Can Respond. Electronic document, http://www.aaanet.org/kat_kosher_lathrop.htm, accessed March 18.
Planners, policymakers, decision-makers and policy analysts face the challenge of compiling massive emergency preparedness and response information for situations of disaster. Fosher and Lathrop draw from experiences of working in emergency situations to suggest the necessity of emergency response personnel teaming with cultural anthropologists. Anthropologists may assist in the risk management process by providing to emergency response personnel a synthesis analysis of the massive information, including information regarding certain populations’ vulnerability to risk and security. An anthropological analysis helps reduce gaps between emergency personnel’ language and concepts, ultimately resulting in the development of more strategic and effective preparedness and response plans.
Groskind, Fred 1994
Ideological Influences on Public Support for Assistance to Poor Families. Social Work 39(1): 81-89.
U.S. public support and attitudes regarding public policies are critical factors, or should be, in the public policy decision-making process. Groskind provides a sociological analysis of how the public’s views regarding politics, racial or ethnic and class identity influence Americans’ support or non-support for government aid to low-income or poor families. Basing his argument on the findings of a national opinion survey, Groskind suggests that public views are not heavily influenced by class or economic self-interests. Instead, he finds that political ideas shape the public’s views for support or non-support of assistance to low-income and poor families.
U.S. political ideologies
Harrison, Faye V. 1995
The Persistent Power of “Race” in the Cultural and Political Economy of Racism. Annual Review of Anthropology 24:47-74.
In this review article, Harrison explores the complex structural consequences of race, including anthropologists’ “no-race” biological approach to race discourse. Harrison’s descriptions of race over time and across cultures attest to the contention that “race” matters. “Race” is of importance in political and public ideologies, in maintaining social order and in decision-makers’ assumption of oppressive power over less powerful communities, especially in situations of risk worldwide.
Theoretical/social construction of race
Neo-racism without races
Hollander, Gail M. 2006
‘Subject to Control’: Shifting Geographies of Race and Labour in the U.S. Sugar Agroindustry, 1930-1950. Cultural Geographies 13(2): 266-292.
Hollander analyzes the shift of the sugar agroindustry from south Florida to the Caribbean job market. Holland uses data collected from historical documents, reports, and publications of the United States Sugar Corporation (USSC) and the U.S. government. The analysis shows how the historic process of racialization structures labor markets. Hollander suggests that embedded racism of the Jim Crow South and the history of plantation slavery both shape the practices of the USSC, the sugar agroindustry’s administrator.
Kingsland, James 2006
Colour-coded Cures. New Scientist 186(2503): 42-47.
The phenomenon of race-specific medicines based on ethnic biological features is a developing controversy among medical and social scientists. Kingsland examines the case of BiDil, the first ever race-specific medicine to be considered for approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA). BiDil is a treatment for heart related conditions. Based on clinical trials, the treatment appears to work better with African Americans than among other ethnic groups. As the term “race” continues to spark debate, medical and social scientists alike express skepticism of BiDil’s beneficial effects. The ground-breaking medical research has implications for health policy.
U.S. health policy
“Race” or ethnicity groups
Kirsch, Stuart 2001
Environmental Disaster, “Culture Loss,” and the Laws. Current Anthropology 42(2): 167-198.
Kirsh examines tribunal proceedings in response to nuclear weapons testing in the Marshall Islands to show how indigenous populations’ claims are overshadowed by “expert knowledge.” Kirsch cites several international court proceedings regarding indigenous cultural claims around the world. The court proceedings reveal that decision- makers often rely on expert knowledge based on socially constructed definitions and terminology in describing and interpreting cultures. As a result, in the event of man-made disasters, decision-makers overlook indigenous populations’ perception and claims regarding “culture loss.” Kirsch’s article asserts that expertise influences the creation and implementation of laws, which often exclude indigenous populations’ viewpoints in situations of disaster.
Nuclear weapons testing
Klinenberg, Eric 2002
Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Klinenberg’s “social autopsy” offers a “dissection” of the social structures and layers that contributed to the occurrence of the Chicago heat wave of 1995. Klinenberg, conducted interviews, observation, and library research to highlight the roles race, class, place, age and gender played in vulnerability to morbidity and mortality in the 1995 heat wave. Social and economic inequalities, concentrated areas of affluence and poverty, and increasing lifestyles of isolation created marked patterns in vulnerability and response. Klinenberg shows that the “timely and vigorous” response of local governments, media, organizations and citizens greatly reduces rates of heat-related morbidity and mortality.
Excess death and disease
Liebow, Edward 1995
Inside the Decision-Making Process: Ethnography and Environmental Risk Management. National Association for the Practice of Anthropology Bulletin 16(1):
Liebow reviews the ethnographic literature on environmental risk management and suggests that effective risk assessment requires an “inside” involvement of laypersons in the decision-making process. Liebow further elaborates that excluding laypersons or non-specialists who possess, local cultural knowledge, from risk management processes, worsens vulnerable persons’ experiences in disasters. The article advises that researchers, in their study of disasters, should get “inside” local decision-making processes.
Comparative/general decision-making process
Lipuma, Edward and Meltzoff, Sarah K. 2005
The Crosscurrents of Ethnicity and Class in the Construction of Public Policy. American Ethnologist 24(1): 114-131.
Lipuma and Meltzoff examine the creation of a land-use plan in the Florida Keys to demonstrate intersections of ethnicity and class in the plan’s implementation. They specifically focus on rezoning plans that counter the original plan’s design to curb development. The rezoning plans would permit tourist and vacation home development in communities zoned solely for commercial fishermen activity. The proposed amendments have been set forth by Anglo high-income retirees, sportfishermen and tourists. The planning of the proposed amendments exclude, yet most affect, Anglo and Cuban commercial fisherman of lower and working class communities. The article reveals that what the policy makers in south Florida consider “rational management” is, in fact, embedded in hidden relations of economic and symbolic power.
Okongwu, Anne F. and Joan P. Mencher 2000
The Anthropology of Public Policy: Shifting Terrains. Annual Review of Anthropology. 29: 107-24.
Okongwu and Mencher’s review article focuses on how cultural anthropology contributes to international social policy research, practice, and advocacy. The review provides an analysis and description of several areas of social public policies and environmental public policies. Okongwu and Mencher recommend that anthropologists offer policymakers comprehensive analysis of social policies to influence more socially sound public policy. Otherwise, policymakers will make decisions that have negative social affects.
Comparative/globalization and policy
Stephens, Sharon 2002
Bounding Uncertainty. In Catastrophe and Culture. The Anthropology of Disaster
Susana M. Hoffman and Anthony Oliver-Smith, eds. Pp. 91-111. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.
Stephens provides a case study of communication of expert knowledge by “protection experts” or professional leaders to mid-level government professionals. The chapter highlights the shortcomings associated with expert knowledge. In technological disasters expert knowledge based on “averaging-out” statistics considers minimally the cultural and historical contexts of individual communities. Stephens’ investigation of radiological protection experts in light of Chernobyl supports her claim that, in risk management, the policy-makers’ disregard of the human or the identity of human groups aggravates disastrous situations.
Comparative/global expert knowledge
Tucker, Jed 2004
Making Difference in the Aftermath of the September 11th 2001 Terrorist Attacks. Critique of Anthropology 24(1):34-50.
Tucker compares two New York City school communities’ post 9/11 response to environmental hazards in the schools. He contends that the schools’ responses and the public’s perception of the schools’ responses are affected by class, race and access to knowledge. Tucker’s comparison of the schools also reveal that social constructs or lines of distinction are used to establish social order governed by the recovery decision-making process following a disaster.
New York City
Wigley, Daniel C. and Kristin S. Shrader-Frechette 1996
Environmental Racism and Biased Methods of Risk Assessment. Risk Health, Safety and Environment 7:55-88.
Wigley and Shrader-Frechette assert that environmental decision-making involves “intentional” racial biases. The authors base their findings on case studies of U.S. minority communities that have experienced environmental racism and injustice. The case studies reveal that the decision-makers’ of environmental programs and policies rely on “sloppy”, fallacious, and outdated calculations and methodology. Using their backgrounds of law and philosophy, Wigley and Shrader-Frechett take a moral advocatory approach in describing the injustices minorities face in risk assessment.
U.S. minority communities
Biases in risk assessment
Law and philosophy
The Risks of Secure Health Care Access for Marginal Communities in China