Doug Tewksbury, associate professor of communication studies, will present his paper, “Petro-Nostalgia and Conspicuous Pollution: Social Media Representations of Anti-Environmentalism Communities,” at the 2019 Sustainability: Transdisciplinary Theory, Practice, and Action Conference, Oct. 16-18 at the University of Toronto.

In his paper, Tewksbury analyzes user-generated, social media representations of anti-environmentalism and pro-fossil-fuel confrontational practices, including “Rolling Coal" videos, in which fossil-fuel activists modify their diesel pickup trucks to target dense, black clouds of exhaust smoke at Toyota Priuses and electric cars, environmentalists, protesters, bicyclists, pedestrians, and women. They also intentionally blow this soot into their faces as a celebration of their anti-environmental credibility and value system.

Tewksbury argues that these representations function as a form of “conspicuous pollution,” a mediated conservative discourse of anti-environmentalism and identities built around climate change denial. As an exercise of what Daggett (2018) calls “petro-nostalgia,” these mediations become a backward-looking shorthand against the norms of environmentalism by reinforcing a cultural hegemony of fossil-fuel dominance through a nostalgic remembrance for a time when traditional constructions of privileged subjects (white, male, hetero, capitalist, etc.) led the way for the establishment of carbon-capitalist ideologies, cultural norms, and economic systems.

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