Sacrifice zones are environmentally alienated territories facing environmental violence, degradation, and destruction. Being a term once used in the Cold War to describe territories assigned to nuclear purposes, highly contaminated for uranium mining and processing, the term sacrifice zone is nowadays mainly used to describe various forms of environmental injustice at different spatial levels and scales. We investigate how people living in sacrifice zones attach themselves to their voluntarily or involuntarily chosen homes.
Environmental justice is a multifaceted concept involving humans and their relations to the environment. Humans and their various forms of social organisation form an integral part of practically all ecosystems. Understanding the different anthropocentric components of environmental justice therefore requires exploring in-depth the intricacies between humans and ecological processes. These intricacies give rise to so-called socio-ecological systems, which are investigated in a wide array of contexts including resilience, sustainability, multi-scale and hierarchical systems, among others. Socio-ecological systems are not uni-dimensional but consist of many subsystems interacting at multiple levels, exacerbating an analogy to an organism’s metabolism. This analogy is also used in our research on sacrifice zones in order to facilitate a better understanding of cities and regions as complex, interwoven systems. Most common cases of sacrifice zones are permeated by extractivism, such as coal mining in West Virginia, USA and Hambach, Germany; gold and silver mining in San Luis Potosí, Mexico; steel milling in Gary, IN, USA; and gas plants in Ontario, Canada. But some sacrifice zones are characterised by industrialism, and sometimes logistics, as the main threat to their immediate environment and environmental health. Examples include the industrial clusters in Quintero, Chile and Gdansk, Poland. No matter how different these examples are, common ground can be found among all sacrifice zones. Oftentimes, public policy-making in such areas perpetuates the pollution cycle, either by execution or omission of said policies. Also, faulty decisions are frequently taken in the expectation of misconceived development, which then affects the wellbeing of affected populations. Having this in mind, this research proposes two innovative approaches. First, we aim to understand sacrifice zones as socio-ecological systems. Employing the notion of socio-ecological metabolism, this allows us to analyse these territories holistically while at the same time considering and understanding their different subsystems, drivers, and conceptions individually. This way, we are able to identify different kinds of impacts on distributive, procedural, and corrective processes, as well as on social justice. Second, we incorporate a place-based perspective to understand and categorise said contexts and impacts from an inhabitant's point of view. This strategy allows us to not only understand sacrifice zones but also how people see themselves and their lives in such territories.
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Location & approach
The campus of TU Dortmund University is located close to interstate junction Dortmund West, where the Sauerlandlinie A 45 (Frankfurt-Dortmund) crosses the Ruhrschnellweg B 1 / A 40. The best interstate exit to take from A 45 is "Dortmund-Eichlinghofen" (closer to Campus Süd), and from B 1 / A 40 "Dortmund-Dorstfeld" (closer to Campus Nord). Signs for the university are located at both exits. Also, there is a new exit before you pass over the B 1-bridge leading into Dortmund.
To get from Campus Nord to Campus Süd by car, there is the connection via Vogelpothsweg/Baroper Straße. We recommend you leave your car on one of the parking lots at Campus Nord and use the H-Bahn (suspended monorail system), which conveniently connects the two campuses.
TU Dortmund University has its own train station ("Dortmund Universität"). From there, suburban trains (S-Bahn) leave for Dortmund main station ("Dortmund Hauptbahnhof") and Düsseldorf main station via the "Düsseldorf Airport Train Station" (take S-Bahn number 1, which leaves every 20 or 30 minutes). The university is easily reached from Bochum, Essen, Mülheim an der Ruhr and Duisburg.
You can also take the bus or subway train from Dortmund city to the university: From Dortmund main station, you can take any train bound for the Station "Stadtgarten", usually lines U41, U45, U 47 and U49. At "Stadtgarten" you switch trains and get on line U42 towards "Hombruch". Look out for the Station "An der Palmweide". From the bus stop just across the road, busses bound for TU Dortmund University leave every ten minutes (445, 447 and 462). Another option is to take the subway routes U41, U45, U47 and U49 from Dortmund main station to the stop "Dortmund Kampstraße". From there, take U43 or U44 to the stop "Dortmund Wittener Straße". Switch to bus line 447 and get off at "Dortmund Universität S".
The AirportExpress is a fast and convenient means of transport from Dortmund Airport (DTM) to Dortmund Central Station, taking you there in little more than 20 minutes. From Dortmund Central Station, you can continue to the university campus by interurban railway (S-Bahn). A larger range of international flight connections is offered at Düsseldorf Airport (DUS), which is about 60 kilometres away and can be directly reached by S-Bahn from the university station.
The H-Bahn is one of the hallmarks of TU Dortmund University. There are two stations on Campus Nord. One ("Dortmund Universität S") is directly located at the suburban train stop, which connects the university directly with the city of Dortmund and the rest of the Ruhr Area. Also from this station, there are connections to the "Technologiepark" and (via Campus Süd) Eichlinghofen. The other station is located at the dining hall at Campus Nord and offers a direct connection to Campus Süd every five minutes.