Parameters of Legitimation and the Environmental Future of a Taipei Neighborhood
University at Buffalo Law School
ECHOES FROM THE POISONED WELL: GLOBAL MEMORIES IN ENVIRONMENT INJUSTICE: Sylvia Hood Washington, Heather Goodall, Paul Rosier, eds., Lexington Books, 2006
Based on ethnographic fieldwork with community activists, this article demonstrates how urban residents use local history to justify demands on the city government, making a past they never experienced relevant to their personal biographies in ways more potent than appeals to law or representative democracy. It argues that scholarship on collective memory benefits from explicitly examining how, and why, group members make history relevant to their individual selves, a process I call the personalization of history. This examination inevitably encompasses not only the rhetorical tropes and ritual practices of the those who personalize history but also the values and expectations of the society they address. In this case, the community activist group seeking to affect its locality chooses the tropes of personalization because emotionally laden biographical experience, more than structural relations, historical realities, or legal strictures, legitimates political action in its society.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 12
Keywords: Taiwan, collective memory, community activism, legitimation
Date posted: July 1, 2010 ; Last revised: August 19, 2015