Slow violence in public parks in the US: can we escape our troubling past?
Lee, K. J. J., Fernandez, M., Scott, D., & Floyd, M. (2022, January 15). SOCIAL & CULTURAL GEOGRAPHY.
Previous studies on environmental justice have paid limited attention to procedural injustice in parks. Using the concept of slow violence, this paper interrogates the ideological and philosophical foundations of American public parks in order to unearth enduring structural patterns of procedural injustice. The paper illustrates that community, state, and national parks in the U.S. were founded upon the elitism, eugenics, and racism of affluent and powerful White conservationists and social reformers. To materialize their own interests, the White elite defined, built, and managed public parks by displacing, excluding, and criminalizing the Indigenous, the poor, people of color, and immigrants. As such, many of today’s park injustices, such as inequitable park availability and quality, gentrification, and non-visitation of people of color, originated from the beginning of the public parks in the 19th century and have been sustained ever since. The paper discusses corrective justice strategies to alleviate the enduring slow violence in parks.