Cristina Faiver-Serna, Department of Geography, “Geographies of Environmental Racism and the M(other)work of Promotoras de Salud.”
Abstract: Promotoras de salud (community health workers) are central to a public health model of care that addresses asthma in Southern California’s Latinx communities. Toxic effects of pollution are countered through state-based programs that use promotoras to teach families home environmental management and proper medication technique. A cornerstone of many promotoras’ care-work is the experience of learning to manage their own children’s asthma, and becoming empowered to help others. The environmental justice movement has always included public health services as part of its platform to achieve justice. Yet, EJ studies has failed to critically interrogate the state’s provision of public health services as means to achieve EJ. Simultaneously, critique of the state’s appropriation of the promotora’s cultural education praxis, and the roles ‘she’ plays in her community’s survival is an area of much needed inquiry in Latina feminist studies. This project asks: What role(s) does the promotora play in the regional response to environmental injustice in Southern California? How is the promotora called upon by the state to remediate and resolve environmental injustice in her own community? How does ‘she’ respond to this call? This project spatially mobilizes the Chicana M(other)work framework (Caballero et al. 2018) to critically analyze care-work of promotoras, and how it operates to (de)construct geographies of environmental racism. This project combines a genealogical methodology to analyze public health science and archival data with an intersectional feminist analysis of qualitative interview and survey data, in order to address current research gaps and chart new interdisciplinary areas of inquiry.