Professor discusses face of victim-refugees

For Immediate Release: Oct. 30, 2015

BLOOMSBURG — Bloomsburg University's Institute for Culture and Society (ICS) presents a lecture by Wendy Lee, “When the Fish are Gone: Climate Change Refugees, Terrorists Real and Imagined, and Climate Change Denialism,” as part of ICS’s Bloomsburg Explores Poverty symposium.

The lecture, which will be held Thursday, Nov. 12, at 7 p.m. in Hartline Science Center, Room G38, is free and open to the public.

In this lecture, Lee, professor of philosophy, will use the plight of Mexico and Mexicans to argue that the fossil fuel industry fears that giving environmental refugees a human face would make climate change real to the public.

According to Lee, politicians in the U.S., influenced by oil and gas interests, seek political mileage by depicting undocumented workers as drug-runners, terrorists, or simply non-citizens taking away American jobs. She argues that the aim of this rhetoric is to sustain the power of fossil fuel corporations over developing world countries.

Lee concludes that increased public awareness of how environmental crises like climate change influence immigration could gradually transform racist narratives about drug-runners and terrorists into more humanized accounts of victim-refugees. 

The lecture is part of the ICS’s Bloomsburg Explores Poverty symposium, aimed at increasing awareness of this topic and encouraging members of the campus community to become involved in organizing activities during the 2015-2016 academic year.

The Institute for Culture and Society promotes research, scholarship and the creative and performing arts in BU’s College of Liberal Arts. The institute organizes lectures, presentations and performances that explore and explain aspects of human culture and society.

Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 10,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Education, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.