Phaedra C. Pezzullo, "Beyond Straw Men: Plastic Pollution and Networked Cultures of Care" (U California Press, 2023)


Addressing plastics can feel overwhelming. Guilt, shame, anger, hurt, fear, dismissiveness, and despair abound. Beyond Straw Men: Plastic Pollution and Networked Cultures of Care (U California Press, 2023) moves beyond "hot take" or strawman fallacies by illustrating how affective counterpublics mobilized around plastics reveal broader stories about environmental justice and social change. Inspired by on- and offline organizing, Pezzullo engages public controversies, policies, and headline-making advocates in Bangladesh, Kenya, the US, and Vietnam through hashtag activism, campaign materials, and her podcast, Communicating Care. She argues that plastics have become an entry point into contested environmental politics, including carbon-heavy masculinity, carceral policies, planetary fatalism, eco-ableism, greenwashing, marine life endangerment, pollution colonialism, and waste imperialism. Attuned to plastic attachments, Beyond Straw Men shares how unsustainable patterns of the plastics-industrial complex are resisted through imperfect but impactful networked cultures of care.

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