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Accepted Paper:

Distant Environmental (In)justice: Red Mud, Hazardous Waste, and Experiments with Interdisciplinary, Multimodal Research in Hungary  
Alexandra Czeglédi (Environmental Social Science Research Group (ESSRG) and University of Pécs) Ian M. Cook (Allegra Lab) Marta Vetier (Chalmers University of Technology)

Paper Short Abstract:

Collaborative, interdisciplinary and multimodal research into industrial and hazardous waste mismanagement is one way of closing the gap when both environmental justice and injustice appear distant to those affected.

Paper Abstract:

Red mud, a bauxite residue from alumina production, is frequently linked to environmental and health concerns due to its high alkaline content and outdated storage infrastructure. In sites where it is mismanaged, questions of environmental justice typically revolve around how marginalised communities grapple with the enduring presence of industrial waste.

We conducted collaborative research as part of an interdisciplinary team of two anthropologists, one environmental scientist, and one investigative journalist in Almásfüzitő, northwest Hungary, which is home to several red mud reservoirs, the largest of which, at the time of research, was used to dilute hazardous waste. To close the distance between slow-moving scholarship and the urgency of environmental injustices, we produced journalistic articles (text, video), a comic book and a forthcoming audio documentary.

Analysing our findings, as well as our attempts to do anthropology differently through collaboration and multimodality, we conceptualise the environmental (in)justices faced in Almásfüzitő as both spatially and temporally ‘distant’. The divided settlement distances the residents of upper Almásfüzitő from the reservoir, which is located in the lower part of the settlement, but not the financial rewards for hosting it; the ‘slow violence’ of the dangerous waste seem distant from the everyday life of many locals; protests by external environmentalists are seemingly outside residents’ immediate concerns; EU regulatory actions are removed from corrupted Hungarian state-industry interactions; and the abstractions of scholarship and circumscribed independent media create a gap between research/reporting and citizens living with environmental injustices.

Panel OP092
Doing justice differently – new approaches to anthropological research in human and environmental health
  Session 1 Thursday 18 July, 2024, -