Judy Bentley – 2

Human Disabilities, Nonhuman Animals, and Nature: Toxic Constructs and Transformative Technologies

By, Judy K. C. Bentley


Those in the academic profession can build careers by discussing the work of great thinkers, and presenting paper about others’ great ideas, but this presentation is not for that purpose. Bentley’s chapter for the first book on Eco-Ability owes its underlying structure to the great thinker Michel Foucault, but with the purpose of thinking new thoughts of one’s own, birthing new ideas, actions and relationships. Connecting Foucault’s archaeology of knowledge and technologies of the self to David Pellow’s call for “self advocacy research for environmental justice, Bentley constructs a genealogy of toxicity, with a focus on the intersectionality of racism, ableism, and speciesism—and issues a call for transformation.


Dr. Judy K. C. Bentley is an Associate Professor at the State University of New York (SUNY)-Cortland, in the Foundations and Social Advocacy Department, where she teaches graduate courses in research methods and inclusive special education. She is a co-editor and contributing author of Earth, Animal, and Dis-ability Liberation: The Rise of the Eco-ability Movement (2012, Peter Lang), and a co-editor of Animals and War (in-press, 2013, Lexington Books). Dr. Bentley is the current Director of the SUNY Cortland Institute for Disability Studies. She also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of Access to Independence, Inc., an independent living center in Cortland County, and the founding Editor-in-Chief of Social Advocacy and Systems Change, a peer-reviewed, online journal. Dr. Bentley is currently on sabbatical, conducting a needs assessment of the population age 60+ in Cortland County.


One thought on “Judy Bentley – 2

  1. I would like to respond to your citation and interpretation of David Pellow’s idea of intersecting racism and toxic chemical dumping. Please note that I have not read Dr. Bentley’s chapter but I did attend this conference and heard the presentation. The argument was introduced that toxic chemicals and waste are concentrated where racism is and somehow there is a correlation between dumping in these sites and the sentiment expressed towards the people living there. I would like to counter with the argument that toxic waste is dumped where racism is not because the two are directly related but because both tend to be found in areas of poverty and low land value. Under capitalism, it follows that a company dumping waste would want to spend as little capital as possible to maximize net profit. It also follows that minority groups, those subjected to racism, tend to be of lower socio economic status and live on the same inexpensive land that the companies would be inclined to dump on. The companies are not racially motivated to dump on the lands, they are simply following a tenet of capitalism by minimizing cost. This, unfortunately, happens to occur where minority groups live.

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