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"Black people don't love nature": white environmentalist imaginations of cause, calling, and capacity.

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I examine how white British members of a London-area environmental group conceptualize race in relation to ecological disasters. Based on a five-year (2018-2022) ethnographic study, members employed racialized narratives and symbolic boundaries to construct who was the cause of disasters, who had the moral responsibility or calling to remediate disasters, and who possessed the adequate resources and capacity to fix disasters. Together, these narratives formed a tripartite racial imaginary which functioned to demarcate the symbolic boundaries of an ideal, white racial identity that was intimately crocheted with notions of authentic guilt and remorse, responsibility and liability, work ethics, competent knowledge, resource mobilization, moral commitment, and racial paternalism and superiority. Through the pursuit of this White racial ideal, members frequently conceptualized ecological disasters throughout the non-white world as the fault of specific actions by non-White people, identified unique racialized actors as the proper responsible parties for working on the remediation of ecological disasters, and also assigned particular White people from Westernized, industrial, democratic states as the only people in possession of the appropriate knowledge, resources, and character to clean-up and manage a healthy environment.



Culture, Disasters, Environmentalism, Identity, Race, Whiteness

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Theory Soc

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC