Life and Death in Louisiana’s Petrochemical Industrial Complex

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

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
JournalGeohumanities
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Gratitude to Jack Norton for encouragement and feedback on this essay, to Darin Acosta for first teaching me about Norco and introducing me to the concept of the “petrochemical industrial complex,” and to Aubrey Edwards for collaborating with me on the photography. Many thanks to the anonymous reviewers whose generative comments strengthened this piece.

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

Keywords

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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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