Parameters of Legitimation and the Environmental Future of a Taipei Neighborhood

ECHOES FROM THE POISONED WELL: GLOBAL MEMORIES IN ENVIRONMENT INJUSTICE: Sylvia Hood Washington, Heather Goodall, Paul Rosier, eds., Lexington Books, 2006

12 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2010 Last revised: 19 Aug 2015

Anya Bernstein

University at Buffalo Law School

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Taiwan, collective memory, community activism, legitimation

Suggested Citation

Bernstein, Anya, Parameters of Legitimation and the Environmental Future of a Taipei Neighborhood (2006). ECHOES FROM THE POISONED WELL: GLOBAL MEMORIES IN ENVIRONMENT INJUSTICE: Sylvia Hood Washington, Heather Goodall, Paul Rosier, eds., Lexington Books, 2006. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1633047

Anya Bernstein (Contact Author)

University at Buffalo Law School ( email )

School of Law
624 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States

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