Date of Submission

Spring 2011

Academic Program



Jonathan Anjaria

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Beginning with the scholarship of William Cronon, Donna Haraway, Natalie Merchant, and other prominent environmental thinkers, problems associated with creating a divide between the natural world and the human world have necessitated a reflexive analysis of what constitutes an environmental problem and how to frame an environmental issue. This project explores how the rhetoric of eco-apocalypse, a prominent plotline in the environmental narrative since Silent Spring, fits into the nature/human binary.

The project’s primary source material comes from my fieldwork with NYPIRG. NYPIRG is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that has focused its efforts on climate action the past three summers. Since it is not explicitly an environmental rights group, my time as a canvasser at NYPIRG provides insight on how to talk about urgent environmental issues without perpetuating a perceived ideological exclusivity that exists within environmentalism. NYPIRG focuses its efforts on building support in local communities. This appeal to locality is referred to as community building. The rhetoric used to appeal and/or challenge the vitality of the local community will be explored to show how an apocalyptic narrative that predicts the ‘end of nature’ can be transformed into a broader narrative of social action.

A content analysis of green advertising campaigns focusing on climate change will also provide insight on problems associated with communicating climate change to the general public. Ads that use natural imagery to communicate climate change as well as ads that attempt to forge a new dialogue will be explored. I will then utilize my fieldwork with NYPIRG to show how this media discourse effects grassroots activism.

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