Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Racism-Psychological aspects, Psychic trauma, Oppression (Psychology), Environmental justice, Civil rights movements-Psychological aspects, Environmental racism, Collective resistance


This theoretical study was undertaken to explore how trauma theory can broaden our understanding of the psychological impact of environmental racism, and how liberation theory could be utilized to better prepare social workers to identify and understand the impact of environmental racism in the lives of clients and elucidate the role the profession should play in alleviating this form of oppression. Aspiring to examine the phenomenon and each of the theories from the vantage point of a perspective that falls outside of a dominant lens, this study explored race-based traumatic stress as a crucial element of a comprehensive definition of trauma, and considered the healing capacity of the environmental justice movement in treating race-based traumatic stress that is sourced by environmental racism. Finally, this study considered how engaging one's liberatory consciousness helps to reject dominant narratives of privilege, marginality, suffering, and healing. It examined the ways in which social workers can apply the tenets of liberation theory in their practice to expand notions of collective resistance and invoke creative strategies for collective transformation. This study identified the environmental justice movement as a collective resistance movement that both confronts and contextualizes issues of suffering and healing, and contributes significantly in a movement towards collective transformation.




iii, 100 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 90-100)