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Chapter 2: The Presence of the past
[Every environmental] disaster is … a unique private tragedy, inflicting its own special wounds, its own peculiar species of pain; and in order to understand fully what an event like this means to the people who survived it, one needs to know something about who they were and where they came from, how they organized their lives and what they asked of the future. … [W]e need to locate the people … in the larger sweep of history and on the wider social and cultural map.
Local environmental conflicts always occur someplace, in a rural township, village, suburb, or perhaps a city. Places like these are always freighted with a past. Whatever is going on at ...