This research inventory is organized into eight categories that are defined below. The larger categories, such as agriculture, are broken up into sub-categories, such as farmworkers or pesticides. Each entry in the annotated bibliography is also followed by a series of key words. Readers can search the entire bibliography by keyword to reorganize the information according to their own needs and priorities.
There are five categories total, each corresponding to a particular environmental justice issue.
Agriculture — Of all the issues summarized in this bibliography, the most abundant research has been done on the effects of agriculture on both the environment and on low-income communities and communities of color. Any review of environmental justice and California agriculture immediately brings to mind the circumstances of the low-income, largely Latino/a and often undocumented farmworkers whose labor comprises the bulk of agricultural production. Research on farmworkers traces the political and economic processes through which various low-income communities and communities of color have come to comprise the bulk of California farmworkers, documents unjust labor and environmental health conditions and analyzes various strategies employed by farmworker justice and unionization movements.
Unlike other states with strong histories of family farming, California agriculture has historically been dominated by large-scale industrial farms. This (lack of) distribution of resources has particular environmental consequences that weigh heaviest on low-income communities and communities of color. Research documenting the dominance of industrial agriculture and its consequential political influence is summarized under the sub-heading of agribusiness.
While much of the literature on pesticides deals with the health effects for farmworkers, and is therefore included in that section, other research examines how pesticides affect nearby communities. This literature can be found under the sub-heading pesticides. The remaining few studies deal with the challenges faced by minority farmers.
Water — Much of the literature on California water does not explicitly take an environmental justice approach. However, the two major topics, water rights and water quality, have important environmental justice consequences. Issues of water rights (as well as water access and water policy) revolve around the construction of the Central Valley Aqueduct, as well as other controversies concerning water use. While many of these studies are historical, others address contemporary instances of water use conflicts. Water quality studies, on the other hand, look at water contamination.
Air — Air quality is one of the most pressing Central Valley environmental concerns. Studies of Central Valley air quality demonstrate the disproportionate environmental risk faced by low-income people of color. Other research looks to the epidemiological consequences of poor air quality in the Central Valley, linking it to a host of diseases including asthma and various types of cancer. A few studies look specifically at transportation. Lastly, this section includes one study of an EJ collaborative that successfully pressured government regulators to regulate a nearby facility more stringently. Research concerning the air quality effects of agricultural pesticides is included in the section on agriculture.
Waste — A number of studies deal with communities’ opposition to hazardous waste, nuclear waste and incinerators. This category also includes studies that document the health effects of exposure to waste. Lastly, two projects discuss community involvement in waste management issues in the forms of participatory research and procedural justice.
Prisons — While there are only two studies in this category, they represent a groundbreaking frontier in Central Valley EJ research. In the first, the author takes an environmental justice approach to the construction and siting of California’s huge number of state prisons. In the other, the authors discuss potential alliances between the environmental justice and prison moratorium movements.
Participatory Research — This category includes research in which community participation is incorporated into the research design. Also called community-based research, this approach is an important aspect of environmental justice scholarship and one the EJP hopes to encourage through this inventory.
As stated earlier, each entry in this annotated bibliography is followed by several keywords. By searching these keywords, it is possible to group resources in ways other than those I’ve employed here. So, for example, if a public health researcher wanted to view all of the work on health, regardless of its category, they could search by “health.” Similarly, if a Native American community member or organizer wanted to view all research on this ethno-racial group, they could search the keywords for “indigenous communities.” Below is a list of keywords used in this annotated bibliography.