Phaedra C. Pezzullo is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication in the College of Media, Communication, and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder. She also is founding co-director of the Center for Creative Climate Communication and Behavior Change.
Salma Monani is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Environmental Studies at Gettysburg College. She is also Co-Facilitator of her college’s Land Acknowledgment Committee.
Can you describe what motivated you to create the Environmental Communication, Power, and Culture series, and what you hope to accomplish?
Phaedra: UC Press has always been my favorite academic publisher because it values research that challenges the status quo—as the press mission states: “Our work amplifies bold, diverse perspectives and inspires critical thought and action. We believe in the potential for scholarship to fundamentally change how people think, lead, and live.” So, when the press approached me, I didn’t hesitate. I knew I wanted a publishing opportunity for environmental researchers that explicitly cared about power and culture. I also knew I couldn’t do it alone.
I’m a big fan of Salma’s work on Indigenous cinema, and her networks help emphasize the interdisciplinary commitments of the series. We met at our favorite Thai food restaurant in Boulder, Colorado, and the rest was history—Salma, is that what you remember?
Salma: Yes, that is what I remember. Not only was the food delicious, but I was so honored that Phaedra reached out to me. This is work I am deeply passionate about—interdisciplinary environmental scholarship that challenges and inspires our thinking on communication’s role by delving deep into issues of power, privilege, and justice.
What types of projects are you looking for?
Salma: When we read a proposal, we look for evidence of theoretical perspectives that are very grounded in praxis. We get especially excited about projects with a deep commitment to communities and issues that have not always received scholarly attention in the past, as well as those that consider how communication works to disrupt problematic power regimes.
Phaedra: What Salma said—we want projects grounded in specific contexts and cultural perspectives, which offer intersectional and engaging approaches to environmental politics today. We’re not turned on by projects that claim universal answers or ignore inequities.
We’ve now published three books in the series, including E Cram’s Violent Inheritance, Armond Towns’s On Black Media Philosophy, and Catalina M. de Onís’s Energy Islands. Can you tell us briefly about these books and what you found most exciting about them?
Phaedra: I couldn’t be happier with these three first-time authors. What I love most is that, in addition to being eloquent, smart, and well-researched, these books catapult us into the timely work environmental studies needs to be doing today: energizing us, reinterpreting taken for granted assumptions, and challenging readers to become more attuned to the praxis we need for a more just and sustainable future.
How do projects in the series shed light on current events?
Salma: Each of the books provides context for events with deeply researched intersectional examinations of histories of power and privilege. They illuminate systemic structures that shape our current events, whether these are related to racialized impacts of worsening hurricanes, how media engages with the Black Lives Matter movement, or how health discourses control the (spatial) politics of sexuality. While each book takes a different topic and a different approach, collectively they represent what this series strives to offer—well-researched, engaging works that expose injustices while simultaneously offering us possibilities to make our way out of crisis and towards alternative modes of creating energy, theorizing media, and healing communities.
Do you have any advice for scholars hoping to submit to the series?
Salma: Check out our series’ landing page, fill out the UC Press book proposal form, and contact either us or our new acquisitions editor, Chloe Layman.
Phaedra: We’re interested in extending the topics covered to areas such as corporate disinformation campaigns, the recent rise of ecofascism, abolition ecologies, and mutual aide food or disability justice networks. We look forward to hearing from more emerging and established scholars doing environmental research that is intersectional, reflexive, deliberate, and consequential.