Amanda McMillan Lequieu

Wolf Humanities Center Regional Fellow

20242025 Forum on Keywords

Amanda McMillan Lequieu

Assistant Professor of Sociology, Drexel University

Amanda McMillan Lequieu is an environmental sociologist and Assistant Professor in Sociology at Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her research, she focuses on how people use stories of place, belonging, and repair to diagnose social problems across the rural-urban spectrum. Her work has been published in Environmental Sociology, Journal of Rural Studies, Rural Sociology, Case Studies in the Environment, and Environmental Justice. Her new book addressing the tensions between the crises of economic and environmental upheaval and the strategies of those who choose to stay, is Who we are is where we are: Making home in the American Rust Belt, out with Columbia University Press.

Keywords of disposability: Sacrifice Zones and the translation of modern social problems

How do social actors—groups of people united around one cause—do the work of translating keywords across vastly different problems, places, and times? More concretely, how might a pervasive and powerful keyword of environmental justice and activism—sacrifice zones—enable insight into those processes of translation and transition? A genealogy of this keyword of environmental justice speaks to broader processes of how everyday people use powerful ideas to see, name, and dispute the pervasive logics of expendability core to modern political and economic activity. I propose to use the Wolf Fellowship colloquium year to build my skills in tracing the movement of sacrifice zones as a keyword, and answer questions about problem definition, agency, and conditions for social change.