Faculty

Brinda Sarathy

Brinda Sarathy

Professor and Dean

Ph.D. Environmental Science, Policy, & Management, University of California, Berkeley
M.S. Environmental Science, Policy, & Management, University of California, Berkeley
B.A. International Development and Environmental Studies, McGill University

Office: UW1-390D
Phone: 425-352-5452
Email: bsarathy@uw.edu 
Mailing: Box 358530, 18115 Campus Way NE, Bothell, WA 98011-8246

Teaching

In the classroom, I encourage students to analyze environmental problems from a number of different perspectives. This process often involves difficult, but necessary, conversations about the intersections of racial segregation, environmental degradation, and resource management policies in the United States and abroad.  I also work to connect students with relevant local and regional issues and organizations and facilitate opportunities for students to contribute to social change. 

My teaching on environmental justice seeks to fundamentally change the way students approach environmental problems—viewing these issues as also tied to historically specific dynamics of capital, race, class, gender, and other axes of difference (some might call this a political ecology analysis).

Research/Scholarship

My research and scholarship fundamentally engage with questions of environmental justice, public wellbeing, equity, and access.  As an example, my first book, Pineros: Latino Labor and the Changing Face of Forestry in the Pacific Northwest, provided a critical social history of a previously hidden group of forest workers in Southwestern Oregon’s Rogue Valley and made the structural plight of immigrant workers more central to debates over natural resource management on public lands, labor standards, and immigration policy in the United States. This research continues to inform policy and non-profit conversations on labor and natural resources.

My post-tenure research and scholarship similarly engage topics directly relevant to diversity, equity, and inclusion, including the dynamics of community-based learning and social justice pedagogy. For example, in my co-authored article, “Enacting Environmental Justice through the Undergraduate Classroom: The Transformative Potential of Community Engaged Partnerships,” I detail efforts to make the classroom a space in which to engage environmental justice beyond a narrow and short-term focus on the disproportionate impacts of environmental harms on low-income and minority communities to a more expansive and consistent attention to histories of inequality and processes of marginalization. My co-author and I argue that community engaged partnerships afford opportunities for educators to combine theory with practice and disrupt students’ assumptions about what or who constitutes the environment. In so doing, our students have been able to re-evaluate and reframe their own political and theoretical commitments and carve out meaningful ways to contribute to environmental justice work.

In my co-edited volume, Historical Perspectives on Contamination, Exposure and Expertise, I examine the processes by which toxic spaces have become normalized over time. Our contributors pay close attention to the means by which these places have been created, examining how and when they have been policed or ignored, or sometimes actively hidden. Overall, two competing narratives emerge. On the one hand, these histories could be read as proof of an increasing awareness of the toxic landscapes we inhabit, demonstrated by attempts to regulate and manage toxic substances, to study their circulation in the environment, and to create structures of safety to minimize exposure and keep bodies safe. But a closer look reveals how inadequate these processes of regulation have been. As toxic landscapes have become increasingly interwoven into economic structures and everyday life, we repeatedly see a tendency to minimize danger, and to reject the lived experience and testimony of those harmed by exposure to toxic substances, individuals who tend, disproportionately, to come from disadvantaged communities.

My current research project explores the history of the first Superfund site in California, the Stringfellow Acid Pits, to better understand how places are produced in the context of invisible flows: of toxics, of groundwater, and less told stories of social mobilization. Significantly, this work considers how institutions of expertise often exclude the experiences of those most exposed to harm and, despite deep and persistent uncertainties, authority figures have been called on to minimize concerns about hazardous substances, thus facilitating industrial, military, and economic expansion. 

Selected Publications

Books

Sarathy, Brinda, Vivien Hamilton, and Janet Brodie, eds. 2018. Inevitably Toxic: Historical Perspectives on Contamination, Exposure, and Expertise.

Sarathy, Brinda. 2012. Pineros: Latino Labor and the Changing Face of Forestry. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press.

Wilmsen, Carl, William Elmendorf, Larry Fisher, Jaquelyn Ross, Brinda Sarathy, and Gail Wells, eds. 2008. Partnerships for Empowerment: Participatory Research for Community- Based Natural Resource Management. London, U.K.: Earthscan Press.

Peer reviewed articles

Sarathy, Brinda. Forthcoming. “Logistics, Labor, and Land: The Origins of the Goods Movement Industry in the Inland Empire.” BOOM California.

D’Arcangelis, Gwen, and Brinda Sarathy. 2015. “Enacting Environmental Justice through the Undergraduate Classroom: The Transformative Potential of Community Engaged Partnerships.” Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship, 8(2): 97-106.

Grady Benson, Jessica and Brinda Sarathy. 2015. “Fossil Fuel Divestment in U.S. Higher Education: Student Led Organizing for Climate Justice.” Local Environment, 21(6):661-681.

Dobbin, Kristin and Brinda Sarathy. 2015. “Solving rural water exclusion: Challenges and limits to co-management in Costa Rica.” Society & Natural Resources, 28(4): 388-404.

Sarathy, Brinda. 2014. “The Bay Delta Conservation Plan in the Nutshell of California Water Policy.” Progressive Democracy Special Edition: Water Scarcity and Solutions Proceedings. http://taipd.org/node/231

Sarathy, Brinda. 2013. “Legacies of Environmental Justice in Inland Southern California.” Race, Gender & Class, 20: 254-268.

Sarathy, Brinda. 2008. “The marginalization of pineros in the Pacific Northwest,” Society & Natural Resources, 21(8):671-686.

Sarathy, Brinda, and Vanessa Casanova. 2008. “Guest workers or unauthorized immigrants? The case of forest workers in the United States,” Policy Sciences, 41(2): 95- 114.

Sarathy, Brinda. 2006. “The Latinization of forest management work in southern Oregon: A case from the Rogue Valley,” Journal of Forestry, 104(7): 359-65.

Sarathy, Brinda. 1997. “A Critique of Power and Discourse Between a Dominant Paradigm and Traditional Ecological Knowledge,” Latitudes: The McGill Journal of International Development Studies, 4(1).

Peer reviewed book chapters

Sarathy, Brinda. 2020. “From Fraud to Fighter.” In, Ivy Cargile, Denise Davis, Jennifer Merolla, and Rachel VanSickle-Ward, eds. The Hillary Effect. New York, USA: Bloomsbury Press.

Sarathy, Brinda. 2019. “An intersectional reappraisal of the environmental justice movement.” In Char Miller and Jeffrey Crane, eds. The Nature of Hope: Grass Roots Organizing, Environmental Justice, and Political Change. Boulder, CO: University of Colorado Press.

Sarathy, Brinda. 2018. “Making Way for Industrial Waste: Water Pollution Control in Southern California, 1947-1955.” In, Sarathy, Brinda, Vivien Hamilton, and Janet Brodie, eds. 2018. Inevitably Toxic: Historical Perspectives on Contamination, Exposure, and Expertise.

Hamilton, Vivien and Sarathy, Brinda. 2018. “Toxicity, Uncertainty, and Expertise.” In, Sarathy, Brinda, Vivien Hamilton, and Janet Brodie, eds. 2018. Inevitably Toxic: Historical Perspectives on Contamination, Exposure, and Expertise. Hamilton, Vivien and Sarathy, Brinda. 2018. “Containment: Discussing Nuclear Waste with Peter Galison.” In, Sarathy, Brinda, Vivien Hamilton, and Janet Brodie, eds. 2018. Inevitably Toxic: Historical Perspectives on Contamination, Exposure, and Expertise.

Sarathy, Brinda, and Heidi Ballard. 2008. “Inclusion and exclusion: Immigrant forest workers and participation in natural resource management.” In Carl Wilmsen, William Elmendorf, Larry Fisher, Jacquelyn Ross, Brinda Sarathy, and Gail Wells, eds., Partnerships for Empowerment: Participatory Research for Community-Based Natural Resource Management. London, U.K.: Earthscan Press.

Other published work

Sarathy, Brinda. 2014. “Engaging students in community-based partnerships for environmental justice: Reflections on CCAEJ’s Organizing Academy.” In Tessa Hicks ed., The Pitzer College 50th Anniversary Engaged Faculty Collection: Community Engagement and Activist Scholarship. Claremont, CA.: Pitzer College. Authored as part of the Water Leaders Class of 2013. December 2013.

STORMWATER: A Challenging Resource. Sacramento, CA: The Water Education Foundation.