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Vol 10 No 2: Embodied Inequalities of the Anthropocene

"Just Graphite": Corporate Representations of Particular Matter in Santa Cruz, Rio de Janeiro

February 25, 2022
June 30, 2023


The unevenly distributed environmental burdens of the Anthropocene become evident in conflicts surrounding the extractive industries. ThyssenKrupp’s steel mill (TKCSA) in Rio de Janeiro is an illustrative example. The factory transformed its surrounding landscape and emitted a fine metallic dust over its human and non-human neighbours. This article focuses on some of the less tangible elements of Anthropocene transformations around the mill. I examine ThyssenKrupp’s communication strategies to reveal the underlying meanings of corporate rhetorical devices, uncover the violence of public relations language and understand the intensity of feeling that surrounded it. I trace the affective registers that emerged around the steel mill as a result of its polluting activities, its approach to corporate communications, and its ‘corporate social responsibility’ (CSR) activities. Everyday life involved minimal corporeal expressions of emotion that encapsulated feeling and allowed for perseverance in the face of toxic suffering. The ‘Stop TKCSA’ campaign involved affective labour; emotions were the agentic contribution campaigners were able to make in the context of unequal power structures. I centre these less visible dynamics of power to examine how emotions can shape experiences of environmental conflict, form coalitional politics, and contribute to the very landscapes of the Anthropocene.