The final speaker for the 2016-2017 Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics Speakers Series is Dr. Donnie Johnson Sackey. Dr Sackey will present on his work as a researcher in environmental rhetorics and advocacy on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. He is an Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Composition at Wayne State University, and is currently a co-investigator on a grant funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to perform risk communication work around the lead and legionella contamination crisis in the municipal water system in Flint, MI.
An abstract for his talk entitled “Research Notes from Flint, Michigan” is below:
How can advocates, particularly communication researchers, build and maintain alliances across space in pursuit of environmental justice? In Advocacy After Bhophal, Kim Fortun writes of “double binds” or situations that create “persistent mismatch between explanation and everyday life, which force ethical agents to ‘dream up’ new ways of understanding and engaging the world” (13). Double bind situations become kairotic moments that serve as a means to locate enunciatory communities, and develop rhetorical tools that respond to the specificities of space and time. This presentation reports on university-led public advocacy efforts around the water crisis in Flint. Specifically, I ask what are the definitions of advocacy operating within Flint? And what type of advocacy does Flint demand? Although these seem like similar questions, they point to tensions between privileged bodies (university researchers, local, state, and federal regulatory officials) and powerless constituencies (residents). Advocacy in Flint is situated amidst colliding demands for social, political, and technological change. How advocates utilize, represent, and coordinate attitudes in this complex system define the conditions for perception of justice and what type of change is possible.