Beyond “the Mosquito People”: The Challenges of Engaging Community for Environmental Justice in Infested Urban Spaces
In west Baltimore, Maryland, USA, disinvestment in housing and infrastructure has left an ecological legacy of mosquito infestation, along with many other social and environmental hazards. Ecological sampling techniques and resident narratives together tell a rich story about how racist housing and planning policies led to landscapes dominated by abandoned buildings, vacant lots, and sanitation problems, which in turn sustain invasive Aedes albopictus mosquitoes that bite and can transmit disease. However, the study’s focus on the seemingly narrow topic of mosquito control presented challenges for resident engagement and participation in a neighborhood troubled by broader issues of environmental and social injustice.
This research was supported by the National Science Foundation Coupled Natural Human Systems Program (lead PI, LaDeau; DEB 1211797). Field and data logistics were further supported by the Baltimore Ecosystem Study (NSF-LTER DEB 1027188). Thanks especially to the residents of west and southwest Baltimore who have told us their stories.
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