Uncovering the Cultural Narratives and Environmental Identities of Latina/o Environmental Professionals and Beyond

by la Hoz de

Institution: Oregon State University
Year: 2016
Keywords: Latina/o; Environmentalists  – Social aspects  – United States
Posted: 02/05/2017
Record ID: 2105239
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/1957/58550


The environmental movement needs people from communities of color and the differing perspectives they provide. Latinas/os are one of the largest communities of color in the US, and their numbers continue to grow. However, mainstream environmental organizations have failed to engage this community in authentic ways. The lack of meaningful opportunities for activation of existing resources for Latina/o environmental identity, specifically Latina/o values and perspectives, may be the reason why this has not happened. This research project incorporates three elements reported in three manuscripts: 1) a critical review of the last decade of research (N=39) that brings together into one publication what is known about Latina/o environmental identity in both the peer review and 'gray' literature of polling. A LatCrit theoretical framework shapes that review and serves to identify key constructs necessary for any analysis of Latina/o environmental identities, specifically the constructs of intersectionality, multidisciplinarity, and interdisciplinarity. 2) Biographical interviews (N=28) employing a visible thinking routine  – concept mapping  – explores firsthand the environmental identity and environmental values of Latina/o environmental professionals from around the US focusing specifically on the significant life events these professionals include in their narratives. The narratives of Latina/o environmental professionals are explored in light of similarities and differences with the 'master narratives' of mainstream environmentalism in the US. Two themes that emerged from the narratives that are not traditionally part of the narratives of mainstream environmental professionals were the values of familismo and conscientização. Finally, 3) a widely used existing instrument, the Environmental Identity scale (EID), was modified to include questions about significant themes that emerged from the interviews and literature review. This expanded instrument was administered to Latinas/os living in the Pacific Northwest (N= 149) and the results are analyzed in light of whether the EID in its current or expanded form can be a useful tool for documenting the experience of Latinas/os in the US. In order to authentically engage the Latina/o community and thus to remain relevant, the mainstream environmental movement must acknowledge how different Latina/o identities intersect with structures of privilege in the US and provide proenvironmental behaviors that affirm these identities. Advisors/Committee Members: Rowe, Shawn (advisor), Conway, Flaxen (committee member).