This stream features an interdisciplinary group of emerging scholars who are pursuing their research and teaching—and all the aspects of their lived existence—in the context of fossil-fueled depredations that are disproportionately affecting Indigenous, Black, Brown, and low-wealth, economically disadvantaged people worldwide. At the same time, nonhuman populations on our planet are being devastated to the brink of and into extinction. Yet the political will to imagine and realize a transition to postcarbon energy futures, let alone the just transition or multiple transitions we believe are necessary and viable, has yet to approach the scale of the socioecological crisis in progress. The articles in this stream (the journal’s term for a special issue) are written by authors who began their respective projects as graduate students and a postdoctoral associate participating in the Mellon Sawyer Seminar on Energy Justice in Global Perspective (EJGP) at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which we (coeditors of this stream) convened in 2018–19. Individually and collectively, the resulting articles by Stephen Borunda, Sage Freeburg, Sage Gerson, Sarah Lerner, Emily Roehl and Sage Gerson, Amaru Tejeda, and Maria Zazzarino represent a response to the pressing inequities, harms, and straitened futures that have been enjoined on them by the coincidence of their time and place. The stream is an erudite, reverberating cri de coeur.
Before we proceed, we would like to offer a land acknowledgment. We ask you to join us in acknowledging the Chumash peoples, their elders, both past and present, as well as their future generations. We acknowledge that the University of California system where we work was founded upon exclusions and erasures of many Indigenous peoples, including those on whose lands UC Santa Barbara is located: the villages and unceded lands of the Chumash peoples. While UC Santa Barbara and the other nine campuses encompass many constituencies, including some who are committed to identifying institutional resources to address the university’s profound and tangible debts to Chumash community members and other Indigenous peoples, many actions—including the University of California’s support of the Thirty Meter Telescope and observatory being proposed for Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaiʻi—constitute a failure to support the traditional custodians of these lands. As we work together to prevent further damage to these lands and waters, we remember that the Chumash peoples of this area have been separated from their lands, unable to maintain livelihoods as they should, unable to recreate traditionally, unable to maintain their traditional lifeways freely, and unable to have the same access that university stakeholders are provided or to conduct traditional research and educate their future generations.
The Chumash peoples comprise the descendants of Indigenous peoples removed from their island of origin, Limuw (Santa Cruz), and from Anyapac (Anacapa), Wima (Santa Rosa), and Tuqan (San Miguel), and subjugated by five missions during Spanish colonization of the Central Coast, from Malibu to Morro Bay and inland to Bakersfield. The villages upon which this university sits were a safe haven for maritime travelers, a place alive with trading, hospitality, and abundance; a traditional place of sharing knowledge and education of and from the surrounding areas. This is a tradition UC Santa Barbara has an obligation to remember as it engages in projects and research within the traditional territory of the Chumash peoples or that affect other Indigenous peoples in their territories. The damage that has been done and continues to be done by not sharing the true history and legacy in this place and others and by the exploitation of the natural cultural resources of these areas can never be erased—there is no mitigation or research project that can make these communities whole again. Still, each tribe, council, clan, and band is working diligently to restore and continue their traditional stewardship practices on these lands and heal from this historical trauma.
As educators, friends, non-Indigenous allies, and Indigenous researchers, together we can acknowledge the mistakes and atrocities of the past and move forward in remembrance and relationship with the local Chumash peoples and other Indigenous peoples, making room for Chumash and Indigenous voices to be heard, for Traditional Ecological Knowledge of these territories to be listened to, and for Indigenous people to be a part of the healing of these lands and waters, as well as themselves. This acknowledgment, though brief and in no way complete, is part of our commitment to continue to develop our relationship with the local Chumash and Indigenous communities and work to dismantle the ongoing legacies of settler colonialism. We come together here to acknowledge, stand up for, and give voice to the unceded lands and waters of the Chumash and all their peoples. Thank you to Mia Lopez and the Wishtoyo Chumash Foundation for providing the majority of the text for this land acknowledgment.
With this stream, we embrace the opportunity to boost the research and creative activities of the Energy Justice in Global Perspective project in this open-source venue, while reflecting on the various institutional elements that subtended and enabled the work. First of all, speaking of institutions and therefore of infrastructures, a proviso. Keenly aware of the contradiction in terms wrought by these petrodollars—Andrew Mellon, original namesake of the Mellon Foundation, had investments in coal, oil, and steel, among other enterprises—we sought to mitigate their assault. Over the course of the academic year (using Mellon monies), we organized symposia, film events, and panel discussions that centered questions of people’s relationships with energy outside of the white Euro-American–dominated debates that prevail in (English-language) scholarship (see the project website for more details). We offered three linked graduate seminars that constituted a yearlong humanities collaborative devoted to learning from social movements, practices, and knowledge production around energy justice led by Indigenous peoples and centered in the Global South. Described in more detail below, the seminars explored a range of approaches to studying energy justice, from critically questioning epistemologies to studying archives and infrastructures and engaging with community partners. Learning emphasized site specificity, which involved visits to off-campus spaces, including a decommissioned oil platform, a disastrously collapsed hydroelectric dam, and a “toxic tour” (Pezzulo 2007) of a neighboring community. Visits were facilitated by graduate student research (some local and some international in scope), thereby introducing fresh perspectives on our understanding of the past, present, and futures of energy.
A subset of the papers developed in the second-quarter seminar, those focusing on media as well as environmental justice, were invited for submission to Media+Environment and cultivated in a two-year research focus group (RFG) (2019–21). The participants enrolled for course credit; the RFG was cosponsored by the Mellon Sawyer Seminar and the UC Santa Barbara Interdisciplinary Humanities Center and led by Mona Damluji and Sawyer Seminar Fellow Jéssica Malinalli Coyotecatl Contreras. When ready, the article manuscripts were put through the journal’s double-blind peer-review process. Here we wish to acknowledge the authors’ intellectual “sweat equity” that went into these field-shifting articles, and the extramural reviewers’ time and expertise. The authors’ commitment to their research extended over a three-year period that included living through climate change– and drought-driven wildfires and a global pandemic, and the rigors of participating in a UC graduate student labor strike. This is the institutional, intellectual, and affective context in which the peer-reviewed articles in this open-access stream were written, reviewed, revised, and otherwise brought into being. It will probably not come as a surprise that the publication of the stream is also funded by the Mellon grant—another way to hack the petrodollars. Open-access publishing has its associated costs, and humanities and humanistic scholars and especially emerging scholars, artists, and activists rarely have access to the federal grants and other forms of institutional support more common in the sciences. Yet the ideas these constituencies have in abundance sing of heretofore unheard possibilities for the development of environmental justice and media in local, regional, and global perspective.
Recentering Marginalized Voices
Concerns with climate disruption have rightly honed scholars’ attention to energy systems and practices in the industrialized societies of the Global North, where a fraction of the global population burns a supersized portion of fossil fuels. But energy is also a key concern of grassroots movements led by Indigenous peoples and marginalized constituencies and communities worldwide where the negative impacts of unchecked, outsourced, and damaging practices of resource extraction and energy generation and use are especially intense. In our collective EJGP work, we have focused on two promising developments: the resurgence of justice-driven thinking and actions that challenge and suggest alternatives to modernity’s extant imaginaries; and the emergence of pathbreaking energy humanities scholarship on how energy’s entanglements have shaped the experiences of people and communities the world over—but variously, depending on myriad factors, including race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, class and economy, geopolitical region, and settlement history. In our project, we have sought to move away from dominant narratives articulated in the corridors of power, including those of policymakers, political leaders, and technology giants who promote utopian energy futures promising unbridled welfare, economic growth, and geopolitical power, all without fundamental changes to political and corporate systems of exploitation. We have sought to move toward narratives that highlight questions of voice and the distribution of benefits, as well as ills, across groups and societies. This involves learning from and partnering with people and groups with deep knowledge of the multiple and often opaque ways in which lives are imbricated in complex energy systems and pressured by vested interests.
Given the realities and volatilities of fossil-fueled climate disruption and deep entrenchment in petrocultures (LeMenager 2014; Damluji 2015), one of the main themes we focused on was the necessary “big transition” away from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources. We share the conviction of others that this transition will necessarily require systemic, multiscalar, and socially just changes to physical infrastructure, social and cultural norms, and human-environment interactions (Whyte 2018; Pellow 2018; Pulido 2017; Shamasunder 2018). However, complicating matters is the fact that alternative forms of energy come with their own quagmires: For example, the history of dam construction for hydroelectric power, an ostensibly renewable energy source, has meant the displacement of millions of people in numerous regions around the world, and further inherent inequities of access to the benefits of hydroelectric power (McCully 2002; see also Goeman 2022; Hänsch 2021; Miescher 2022; Clark and Miescher 2019; Sanyanga 2015). Solar energy does not arrive directly from the sun into light switches, computers, and refrigerators, but rather involves the production of photovoltaic cells and solar panels—an energy-intensive process in and of itself—and the siting of the solar arrays on lands that are inevitably inhabited, be it by humans or “more-than-human” species (Chen 2019; Mulvaney 2019). Lithium—mined in the desert salt flats of Chile, Argentina, and Nevada, among other places—is a resource invested with hope for its use in car batteries and renewable energy storage. And yet, as Javiera Barandarián (2019) argues, the “sociotechnological imaginaries” that lithium inspires will have mixed implications for Global South–Global North economic relations and for production-process sustainability and equity. Household cell-phone repair shops, small-scale solar and hydro, and other off-grid alternatives broached during the EJGP seminar remain crucial to explore (Bojczuk 2019; Castán Broto et al. 2018; Montague and Kabre, n.d.). The extraction and production of energy has local impacts; yet energy markets are often global, and some forms of energy, like solar panels and lithium-based batteries, are neither fully fossil free nor renewable. The point is that there are no easy fixes, and yet there is an abundance of simplistic and problematic proposed “solutions” that scholars and community advocates must approach with caution.
The EJGP seminar was arranged to enable scholarship that cuts across common silos—which tend to explore single fuel sources isolated from their broader contexts—and schematic binaries such as sustainable/unsustainable, renewable/nonrenewable, local/global, developed/developing countries, and representational/nonrepresentational media. The articles in this collection similarly cut across these categories by analyzing, for example, the electricity grid (Gerson), a battery recycling facility (Tejeda), the EU ban on seal hunting (Freeburg), and an audio tour of Interstate 5 in California (Lerner) as key sites where energy injustices are reproduced and challenged.
This kind of cross-cutting perspective was facilitated by the EJGP’s three seminars, which featured as main themes epistemologies, infrastructures, and participation. Centering epistemologies brought to the fore often-overlooked knowledges as a corrective to a historical tendency to equate energy expertise with scientific, engineering, economic, or policy training (e.g., Peterson and Maldonado 2016). Focusing on the histories, archives, and mediatic dimensions of selected energy infrastructures enabled seminar participants to probe and extend a founding idea of infrastructure studies, that “infrastructures also exist as forms separate from their purely technical functioning, and they need to be analyzed as concrete semiotic and aesthetic vehicles oriented to addresses” (Larkin 2013, 329; see also Gupta 2015; Mbembe 2002; Parks and Starosielski 2015). Whereas the fall seminar began with themes of coal, oil, and “petroculture,” the winter seminar added solar and hydro to this energy mix—convening three corresponding public events.
In the spring quarter, the participation seminar examined questions of efficacy but, even more importantly, questions related to who is invited to participate in a context where participation produces different publics. This seminar centered on the ways in which the participation of activists, scholars, and other actors shapes, reinforces, and challenges energy justice histories and futures. Structured around group projects focused on developing collaborative relationships, as well as work products between students and local community organizations that are leading energy justice struggles, we practiced and interrogated various research methods, with an emphasis on community-based participatory action research. These partnerships extended also between graduate and undergraduate students, providing undergraduates with hands-on experiences and mentoring that can be hard to find at a large public university. One of the projects involved student engagement with oil pipeline workers who supported the proposed installation by three oil companies of more than 770 new wells in northern Santa Barbara County. As of this writing in 2022, the wells will not be built as a result of grassroots mobilizations for sustainable energy systems. This is a welcome and needed development; at the same time, we recognize the dislocations it causes for some in our county.
Epistemologies, infrastructures, and participation proved to be generative points of entry into the analysis and, we hope, transformation of energy systems. The scholarship of these emerging writers bears you this vision. In various ways, the articles all advance energy justice and the notion of a just global energy transition by centering voices of historically marginalized groups and their nuanced and evocative messages: for example, challenging Western ideas of what counts as energy (Freeburg, Lerner, Gerson) or modern ideas of what counts as development (Zazzarino, Borunda, Tejeda). Emily Roehl and Sage Gerson’s article on the making of the Field Guide to Oil in Santa Barbara also amplifies the notion of energy justice. Santa Barbara, California, where we live, provided a convenient way to avoid a “center/periphery” organization that relegates the Global South and Indigenous communities to a less powerful “elsewhere.” Our community’s dynamics provided a sobering ground for the research, given this region’s economic wealth, long history of oil extraction, and multiple forms of past and present injustices against Indigenous, Chicano/a/x, Asian American, and Black communities. As Roehl and Gerson discuss, the opportunity to engage with Santa Barbara, where the EJGP participants lived and worked, taught them “how collaborative research can itself be a form of community-building across disciplines.” They stress the “polyvocality” of the project, so that centering new voices involved not only hearing others but creating opportunities for different perspectives to be voiced and heard. These discussions can continue, thanks in part to the presence of the online Field Guide, which makes visible the past and the “ongoingness” of oil extraction and consumption in Santa Barbara.
From the metabolic energy of seals (Freeburg) to the grid-based distribution of electricity (Gerson) to the haunted “extraction enclaves” of Lake Maracaibo (Zazzarino), the original ideas about energy refracted through this stream illuminate the systemic injustices and toxic practices of capital-intensive energy systems and foreground the persistence, vision, and collective actions of communities most adversely impacted by them.
Media, Energy, Justice
Media and media studies were not fully incorporated into our original Mellon Sawyer Seminar proposal. Yet grappling with media, from theater screenings to thumb drives and online platforms, was inherent in the work of planning and programming the seminar, and publishing this stream. Ultimately, we came to realize that media laid claim to our attention because of their co-constitutive roles in environmental matters and therefore, necessarily, in environmental justice matters.
Screen media are prominent among media modes. Movies, television programs, and videos continue to proliferate, even as urban screens, social media, and video games put their own stamps on the built environment. Articles in this stream by Maria Zazzarino and Sage Freeburg cultivate the critical ecologies of screen media studies by analyzing the interrelationships between documentary films and the energy formations in which they are embedded. As these two eye-opening articles reveal, the study of films as representational texts deepens when the contingencies of energy and justice are also brought to bear. Zazzarino, for her part, analyzes the landmark independent documentary Pozo Muerto (Rebolledo 1968) for its registration of “haunting” as a phenomenon that both characterizes lived experience and resists the inequitable labor practices, agrarian upheaval, and dispossession perpetrated by mid-twentieth-century oil interests in the “extractive enclave” of Lake Maracaibo, Venezuela. The dominating enchantment with oil was not born but made, Zazzarino argues, in part through the pages of a corporate magazine she subjects to close analysis: El Farol (1935–75), the organ of Creole Petroleum Corporation (Standard Oil’s Venezuelan subsidiary). Freeburg locates her analysis of the documentary film Angry Inuk (Arnaquq-Baril 2016) within a Canadian Arctic resource economy where plans for oil development destined for the global market unfold while small-scale seal hunting and sealskin commercialization—necessary for the well-being of Inuit communities—have been drastically reduced by an EU ban. Hearkening to the history of nineteenth-century whaling, Freeburg interweaves her discussion of “animal as energy in Arctic space” with whaling’s contemporary interlocutors, including the first Inuit-directed short film, Natsik Hunting (Michael 1975); the use of social media platforms to disseminate an antisealing agenda that Arnaquq-Baril critiques; and the film’s cinematic advocacy of the collective labor of sustainable seal hunting. Sarah Lerner also writes about energized bodies in multiple media, introducing the “choreographic body” as a feminist opening onto a new historiography of feminism, media, and social works. Enacting her own conceptual choreography, Lerner shifts backward and forward in time, from works by midcentury artists Maya Deren and Anna Halprin to works of (mainly) public art with environmental justice and bodily movement-oriented itineraries. She shows how Mierle Laderman Ukeles, in her projects with the New York City Department of Sanitation, and the creators of an audio tour of toxic sites along California’s Interstate 5 make visible and audible the labors and race-, class-, and gender-based inequities of waste, toxicity, and repair.
Part and parcel of large-, medium-, and small-scale infrastructures, media sculpt and enable energy modernity. Screen media and more-than-screen media participate in the economies of extraction, production, transmission, consumption, (e)wastage, and (one hopes) repurposing. All media are thoroughly and necessarily “resource media” (Starosielski and Walker 2016), arising from the substrates of their jointly material and cultural natures. Taking the lead-acid battery as a mediatic form, Amaru Tejeda reveals how assumptions about batteries as sustainable energy, and recycling as an uncomplicated social good, are belied by the operations of a battery recycling plant in Southeast Los Angeles—and its cleanup. His article, “Recycling Injustice,” shows how a five-mile industrial zone became a flashpoint for activism by the surrounding poor and mostly Latinx communities subject to lead exposure and poisoning. Various stakeholder groups, including grassroots community activists, state regulators, company representatives, and scientists, engage in complicated interactions and, as Tejeda finds, emerge as “lead-toxicity publics” that mediate and are mediated through the recycling plant as a sociomaterial infrastructure.
Media also take the form of “signal traffic,” the transmission towers, satellite dishes, coaxial cables, electrical grid, and myriad other entities that make up a “global culture of continuous electronic transmissions” (Parks and Starosielski 2015). Through three critical encounters with California’s sprawling electrical system—smart meters, infrastructure-sparked superfires, and public safety power shutoffs—Sage Gerson outstrips dominant fictions of value-neutral technological capacity and limitless electricity. Broaching Indigenous practices of cultural burning as a traditional way of living with the land, she analyzes how “fantasies of increased electrification as a solution to the unsustainability of petrosystems” are actually rooted in the Spanish conquest of the area now known as California, are linked to the labor of incarcerated firefighters, and factor into the increasing drought and destructive wildfires that she writes over and against.
While media have been conceptualized as “vessels and environments, containers of possibility that anchor our existence,” the reverse of that proposition has also come to the fore: “environments are also media” that contain and sustain life (Peters 2015)—like the gels in petri dishes that the life sciences refer to as “media,” Peters tells us. Aptly for EJGP purposes, “elemental media” (air, earth, fire, wood, metal, water) have inspired a body of scholarship that has embraced non-Western cosmologies and “geopolitical complexities,” including, for example, “the mining of geological materials from the earth” and the “weaponization of weather control” (Furuhata 2019; see also Starosielski 2019). In his article about “mediations of atomic coloniality,” Stephen Borunda substantiates the multiple forms of media and mediation necessary for understanding and combating ongoing injustices of the world’s first atomic bomb detonation in 1945 at the Trinity Site in the state of New Mexico. Nuevo México is a nuclear colony, Borunda argues, a space where the US federal government built a massive nuclear industrial complex, with no consultation or consent from the largely Latinx and Indigenous communities—who were and are present on the front lines and fence lines of atomic exposure, yet absented by nuclear stakeholders. Thinking through various media modalities from nuclear infrastructures and 1940s documentary films to the irradiated bodies of local residents and the contemporary media activism of the Downwinders group, Borunda recenters the fact and fallout of colonial violence in racialized spaces, and allies with resistance initiatives, past and present.
We believe that the multiply configured and deeply contingent approach to media analysis implemented by the articles in this stream enables a range of new critical engagements and alliances in the EJGP purview. The articles variously critique the outsized influence of fossil fuels in shaping cultural, social, and political worlds and reckon with the uneven pasts, presents, and near futures of energy-intensive—and here and there, energy-just—modernity.
Individually and collectively, the authors in this stream mount a rigorous, exciting, and inspiring case for why and how dominant energy institutions, discourses, and practices must be confronted, transformed, and/or refused. These refusals are necessary to advance toward energy justice and ecological sustainability. Thinking beyond the energy it draws, media could be construed as an multiplicitous energetic form in, of, beyond, and concomitant to itself. We celebrate the seven articles in this stream for their creativity in and commitment to energizing media for the cause of environmental justice.
Javiera Barandiarán is Associate Professor in the Global Studies department at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Her first book examines the market for environmental science in Chile and its consequences for governance. She is currently working on a history of lithium mining, and has published on Rights of Nature, constitutional reform in Chile, and environmental memory. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, UCSB and SSRC. In 2022 she won a Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin and in 2018-19 she was lead co-convenor of the Mellon Sawyer Seminar in Energy Justice in Global Perspective funded by the Mellon Foundation.
Mona Damluji is Assistant Professor of Film & Media Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She received her PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in Architecture. Her research and writing has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, the Social Science Research Council and the Arab Council for the Social Sciences. Her teaching, research and creative work engages underrepresented media histories and cultural studies of oil, cities and infrastructure centered in the Middle East and its diasporas.
Her current book project, Pipeline Cinema, is a history of how multinational petroleum companies have shaped local cultural norms and global popular imaginaries of oil in Iran and Iraq through film use and cultural sponsorship in the twentieth century. Her publications appear in Urban History, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Jadaliyya, International Journal of Islamic Architecture, Ars Orientalis, MEI Insights and the edited volumes Subterranean Estates: the Life Worlds of Oil and Gas and Petrocinema: Sponsored Film and the Oil Industry.
She is a Peabody Award and Emmy Award-nominated producer of the short documentary series The Secret Life of Muslims. She is a co-curator of the traveling exhibition Arab Comics: 90 Years of Popular Visual Culture and Multitudes: An Art Exhibit after #muslimban. Most recently, Mona authored Together, a children’s book and poem celebrating the power of collective action.
Stephan Miescher is a historian of nineteenth and twentieth-century West Africa, with a focus on Ghana. His first book explored the history of masculinities in Ghana by foregrounding the life histories of eight men, and his new monograph is a history of Ghana’s largest development project, the Akosombo Dam, completed in 1965 (to be published by Indiana University Press in May 2022). A Dam for Africa will be accompanied by the documentary film Ghana’s Electric Dreams (dir. R. Lane Clark). He is currently embarking on a new book project about the ecologies and infrastructures of Ghana’s Volta Lake. In addition, he remains curious in and engaged with historical questions about gender, sexualities, development and technology, Africa’s environments, and the practice of oral history in Africa and beyond.
Professor David N. Pellow is Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and the Director of the Global Environmental Justice Project at the University of California, Santa Barbara where he teaches courses on environmental and social justice, race/class/gender and environmental conflict, human-animal conflicts, sustainability, and social change movements that confront our socioenvironmental crises and social inequality. He has volunteered for and served on the Boards of Directors of several community-based, national, and international organizations that are dedicated to improving the living and working environments for people of color, immigrants, indigenous peoples, and working class communities, including the Global Action Research Center, the Center for Urban Transformation, the Santa Clara Center for Occupational Safety and Health, Global Response, Greenpeace USA, and International Rivers.
Janet Walker (PhD, UCLA) is Professor of Film and Media Studies and an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Feminist Studies. She received a UC Santa Barbara Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001.
With research specializations including documentary film and media, trauma and memory studies, and media and environment, Walker is author or editor of six books and numerous published essays. From a feminist perspective, Couching Resistance: Women, Film, and Psychoanalytic Psychiatry (Minnesota University Press, 1993) analyzes psychoanalytic journal literature, marriage manuals, pharmaceutical ads, and of course movies in order to contribute to our sense of the historical formation of varieties of psychological thought and of the ideological battles that attended their diffusion into popular culture. Trauma Cinema: Documenting Incest and the Holocaust (University of California Press, 2005) theorizes a modality of filmic representation by drawing, once again, from a scholarly framework and cultural purview: in this case, the arena of interdisciplinary trauma studies and the heated debates or “memory wars” of the 1990s about the nature of evidence and the vicissitudes of memory. Her edited volumes are Feminism and Documentary (co-edited with Diane Waldman, Minnesota University Press/Visible Evidence Series,1999); Westerns: Films though History (Routledge/AFI Film Readers, 2001), Documentary Testimonies: Global Archives of Suffering (co-edited with Bhaskar Sarkar, Routledge/AFI Film Readers, 2010) and Sustainable Media: Critical Approaches to Media and Environment (co-edited with Nicole Starosielski, Routledge, 2016).
In the vein of media and environment or environmental media studies, Walker co-organized the 2012-13 “Figuring Sea Level Rise” theme of UCSB’s Critical Issues in America initiative; the “Climate Justice Futures: Movements, Gender, Media” initiative of UCSB’s Crossroads series; and “Water Is Life: Standing with Standing Rock,” a four-day event held in May 2017.
Walker is the recipient of a Mellon Sawyer Seminar grant for the project “Energy Justice in Global Perspective” (2017-2019) with UCSB Professors Javiera Barandiarán, Mona Damluji, Stephan Miescher, and David Pellow. She was awarded a short-term residency at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich, Germany and is co-founder and co-editor, with Professors Alenda Chang and Adrian Ivakhiv (the latter of the University of Vermont), of an online, peer-reviewed, open access journal entitled Media+Environment. Her current book-in-progress concerns site-specific media, mapping, and the environment.