The crux of this dissertation is twofold: first, I investigate Mopani Copper Mine in Mufulira and the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mine’s (ZCCM) Kabwe lead mine to analyze how state and corporate actors evade responsibility for industrial contamination and its associated environmental and human destruction. Second, I think through how to understand, legitimize, and value in one kind of ‘minor’ knowledge, which I have termed embodied knowledge. The first section of the dissertation analyzes how Mopani, ZCCM, and the Zambian government produce an abstract regulatory apparatus, a particular way of framing, measuring, and legitimizing knowledge about the environment that silences its critics. This is done by manufacturing ignorance, telling simple fictions, and promoting enumerations that mean very little about what actually matters. This in turn compels residents of adjacent mining Townships to wait amidst life-threatening toxicity, despite their valiant efforts. The second section of the dissertation re-thinks what it means to wait in this instance, arguing that residents are not passive but are instead constantly moving and furious. The final section builds the concept of embodied knowledge, which I define as a way of knowing and claiming expertise through a sustained connection between bodies and place. Embodied knowledge arises from sensing, emplacement, and recounting. Finally, I argue that this knowledge—acquired while enduring the quasi-event of toxicity—has the potential to upend the apparatus by questioning its legitimacy.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.October 2019. Major: Geography. Advisor: Vinay Gidwani. 1 computer file (PDF); xvi, 409 pages.
Undermining the urban present: Struggles over toxicity and environmental knowledge in Zambian mining cities.
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