Pearl Liu is a senior studying science, technology, and society and environmental humanities. Her research project examines how the future has been imagined in discussions about the former refinery site in South Philadelphia. She also enjoys dancing, taking walks, and watching and writing plays.
Wolf Humanities Center Undergraduate Fellow
2020—2021 Forum on Choice
Science, Technology, and Society
Visions of the Future of Philadelphia in Public Discussions About the South Philadelphia Refinery Site
This project explores how visions of the future of Philadelphia have been imagined in public conversations about energy production, focusing on recent discussions about the former South Philadelphia refinery site. I explore how different pasts, presents, and futures of Philadelphia were enacted at the site of the refinery complex. I examine how opposing positions about the future of the refinery site were attached to conflicting narratives of the past and present of the refineries' role in South Philadelphia, as well as how community members, scientists, and academics worked to highlight stories about the longtime harmful impact of the refineries on surrounding neighborhoods to advocate for a fossil-free future. The ways that the past was interpreted shaped how the future of energy production in Philadelphia was envisioned, which in turn shaped what conditions people understood as defining the decisions to be made in the present.