Environmental Literature | Social Justice | Sustainable Futures

Final Project Abstract – Jessica Marlow

April 8th, 2017 | Posted by Jessica Marlow in Uncategorized

Since uranium mines were first opened in 1944 in the Navajo Nation, the Navajo people and others living in the region have faced disproportionately high negative health and environmental outcomes. Purposefully kept ignorant of the harmful radioactive effects of uranium mining and milling, Navajo people across generations are continually affected by this environmental injustice. In this project, I will first evaluate uranium mining and milling in the Navajo Nation, with a close look into both current health and societal conditions of the people living in contaminated areas and also historical factors and context which contribute to this injustice. Then, I will address Yellowcake, a work of environmental fiction written by Ann Cummins whose father once worked in the uranium industry. This novel paints a vibrant image of life in the Navajo Nation, following the banal daily workings of two families, one Navajo and one Anglo-American, both of which have been impacted by the uranium industry, though to different effect. Through analysis of this work, we can better understand the role of literature and the humanities in communicating underrepresented environmental issues in mainstream media. Lastly, I will attempt a work of environmental fiction of my own in the form of short story, writing about the air pollution problem in Beijing while drawing upon my mother’s experiences in the growing up in the city for inspiration.

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