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Environmental reproductive justice: intersections in an American Indian community impacted by environmental contamination

Abstract

In order to fully understand the impact of contamination on Indigenous communities, this paper explores how intersectionality has been integral to the development of environmental justice (EJ) and reproductive justice (RJ), and how considering the ways in which these two frameworks then intersect with each other is necessary to more fully explicate how toxicants have threatened the reproduction of human beings and tribal culture. The concept of environmental reproductive justice (ERJ), or ensuring that environmental issues do not interfere with physical or cultural reproduction, involves expanding reproductive justice to include a deeper focus on the environment, and to include the reproduction of language and culture as concerns, in addition to the reproduction of human beings. ERJ also aims to expand the framework of environmental justice to more closely consider the impact of environmental contaminants on physical and cultural reproduction. Through the example of Akwesasne, a Mohawk American Indian community located downstream from industrial sites on the New York/Canadian border, this paper explores how the concept of ERJ can be utilized to understand the unique situation of American Indian communities who are arguing that justice necessitates going beyond equal protection.

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