Some “F” words for the environmental humanities

Feralities, feminisms, futurities

Authored by: Catriona Sandilands

The Routledge Companion to the Environmental Humanities

Print publication date:  January  2017
Online publication date:  January  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138786745
eBook ISBN: 9781315766355
Adobe ISBN: 9781317660194


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In Toronto, the city where I live, there is an extraordinary place called, variously, Tommy Thompson Park (TTP), the Leslie Street Spit, the Outer East Harbour Headland, or simply “the Spit.” This piece of land, stretching five kilometers into Lake Ontario, was (and continues to be) created out of the detritus of Toronto’s development. Starting in the 1950s, when it was intended to create a breakwater to support increased shipping on the Great Lakes, the Spit has received tens of thousands of tons of waste. Assembled from everything from building teardowns to subway construction to shipping channel dredgeate, the Spit is a rubbly archive of the city’s history. As Watt-Meyer shows, visitors can, with a bit of digging, locate particular urban remains at specific points on the Spit and know that they are walking on the grave of, for example, the Toronto Board and Trade Building (demolished 1958). Moreover, as Schopf and Foster demonstrate, the Spit tells a larger story about urban development and environmental justice. Deposits from 1960s slum clearances contain large numbers of personal artifacts, indicating that “full houses with belongings still inside were demolished, compacted, and then dumped” (1092). Subsequent deposits from the 1980s are “much more uniform and organised” (1095): by this period, “there was considerable planning for the afterlife of the rubble” (1103), a rationalized folding of waste, as it were, into the aesthetic and political matrices of capitalism.

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