The story of water in the United States is one of ecosystemic disruption and social injustice. From the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and Flint, Michigan, to the Appalachian coal and gas fields and the Gulf Coast, low-income communities, Indigenous communities, and communities of color face the disproportionate effects of floods, droughts, sea level rise, and water contamination.
In Hydronarratives: Water, Environmental Justice, and a Just Transition (U Nebraska Press, 2023) Matthew S. Henry examines cultural representations that imagine a just transition, a concept rooted in the U.S. labor and environmental justice movements to describe an alternative economic paradigm predicated on sustainability, economic and social equity, and climate resilience. Focused on regions of water insecurity, from central Arizona to central Appalachia, Henry explores how writers, artists, and activists have creatively responded to intensifying water crises in the United States and argues that narrative and storytelling are critical to environmental and social justice advocacy. By drawing on a wide and comprehensive range of narrative texts, historical documentation, policy papers, and literary and cultural scholarship, Henry presents a timely project that examines the social movement, just transition, and the logic of the Green New Deal, in addition to contemporary visions of environmental justice.