Toxic Heritage

Collaborative research

Toxic Heritage Home

Fall Creek with CSO outlet

By on August 13, 2020

Toxic Heritage: Faculty, students, and community partners exploring the roots of environmental harm, its contemporary consequences, and actions for a better future.

Research Projects

Indy Toxic Heritage: Pollution, Place, and Power (2023-2024)

Climates of Inequality exhibit

Climates of Inequality

Association of Critical Heritage Toxic Heritage session

A social and environmental history of dry cleaning

Love Canal view of blocked street
Love Canal – view of blocked street

International Perspectives on Sites of Environmental Harm

Phyllis Boyd, Executive Director of Groundwork Indy, giving IUPUI students a tour of the Riverside neighborhood and pointing out sources of pollution from railroad and industry.

The heritage of the Anthropocene requires confronting the landscapes, residues, health impacts, and histories of toxicity and their impacts on affected communities. Toxic heritage often traces the fault-lines of social inequalities as marginalized communities are exposed in disproportionate ways to physical harms such as contaminated water, soil, and air, as well as the social conditions that create harmful environments such unsafe working conditions and other threats to personal safety. Toxic heritage is often the site of resistance, resilience, and social action, as communities mobilize to demand mitigation, embrace citizen science, advocate for environmental causes, and document the histories of homelands and neighborhoods. The study of toxic heritage invites, therefore, interrogations of the ways in which heritage works in the contemporary world, as well as of the histories of the industries, policies, and practices that have led to such dramatic impacts on the planet and the health of communities.

The Cultural Heritage Research Center, in the IU School of Liberal Arts, IUPUI, is supporting collaborative research into the origins, consequences, memory practices and activism of environmental harm locally, nationally and globally. Please engage with our work and join the conversation!

“In the community I’ve grown up in, environmental justice is often grounded in injustice and people who have conditions that have been brought on by inequitable relations to power. In a word, state violence…that often impacts poor communities, people of color.”

Imhotep Adisa, Executive Director and co-founder, Kheprw Institute.