Life and Death in Louisiana’s Petrochemical Industrial Complex

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2 Scopus citations


This photo essay traces the historical geography of Norco, Louisiana—heart of Louisiana’s petrochemical industrial complex. Norco, named for the first oil company sited there (the New Orleans Refinery Company), is the quintessential Louisiana petrochemical town, neither exceptional nor provincial, a place that for generations has been a nexus of struggles between racial capitalism’s extractive drive and the demands for collective life encapsulated in slave uprisings and environmental justice activism. Moreover, the fact that by the late 20th century, petrochemical pollution made the best path forward for residents of the historic Black freedom neighborhood Diamond was by fighting for relocation raises critical questions about the life and death work of just transition from oil capitalism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-642
Number of pages18
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright 2021 by American Association of Geographers.


  • Louisiana
  • Shell oil
  • environmental justice
  • oil capitalism
  • petrochemical industry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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