Beyond Straw Men by Phaedra C. Pezzullo


Addressing plastics can feel overwhelming. Guilt, shame, anger, hurt, fear, dismissiveness, and despair abound. Beyond Straw Men moves beyond "hot take" or straw man fallacies by illustrating how affective counterpublics, mobilized around plastics, reveal broader stories about environmental justice and social change today. With attention to both on- and offline organizing in the Global South and the Global South of the North, Phaedra C. Pezzullo engages advocacy campaigns, public controversies, and policies through cogent analysis and interviews with headline-making advocates in Bangladesh, Kenya, the US, and Vietnam. She argues that plastics have become an articulator of crisis—an entry point into the contested contemporary environmental politics of carbon-heavy masculinity, carceral policies, planetary fatalism, eco-ableism, greenwashing, marine life endangerment, pollution colonialism, and waste imperialism. Attuned to plastic attachments—and detachments—Pezzullo illustrates how readers can resist unsustainable patterns of the plastics-industrial complex through imperfect but impactful networked cultures of care.

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