Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Cognitive appraisals, stress, and emotion about environmental contamination in the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation
by Papadopoulos-Lane, Christina A., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2010, 388; 3402998
Abstract (Summary)

This study explored the long term impact of white collar environmental crime, i.e., illegal disposal of toxins by ALCOA and GM foundry, on Akwesasne Mohawk Territory. Specifically this study focused on whether toxic contamination was perceived by Akwesasne residents as a chronic stressor, and how residents appraised and coped with the long term consequences of contamination. Data were collected from retrospective interviews using a non random targeted snow ball method. Lazarus's theory of stress and emotion was used to analyze the responses of 47 residents of Akwesasne about environmental contamination. Respondents who were aware of the contamination appraised it as a harmful threat. The respondents expressed negative emotions when speaking of the contamination. The contamination and the related threats to the environment had an impact on both the residentsā€˜ health and the Nation's economic base of agriculture/fishing. Over time, reappraisals by the respondents of the threats posed by contamination have become focused on the negative repercussions on health, cultural knowledge, and the economy (i.e., urbanization and monetary pursuits). In response to the threat posed by the contamination, respondents described changing their lifestyle, cultural practices, and economy. Reappraisals of what could be done discussed by the respondents focused on the residents' concerns about cultural revival, moving, or acceptance of conditions. The respondents spoke of using hope based on the Mohawks' cultural tradition of looking ahead seven generations as a way of coping.

Contamination of Akwesasne has produced long term adaptational outcomes. Social/work functioning was affected by the changing economic base from agriculture/fishing to capitalism. Chronic stress and post traumatic stress-like symptoms were described by the respondents in what can be interpreted as somatic reactions. Based on comments of fearing the worst but looking forward for future change, I assessed the morale of the respondents at medium level. In the aftermath of the formal acknowledgement of the presence of toxic contamination of their territory19 years ago, the residents of Akwesasne continue to deal with the negative long term consequences of this diluted disaster.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bailey, Frankie Y.
Commitee: Duffee, David, Grinde, Donald, Johansen, Bruce, Toch, Hans
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Criminal Justice
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Criminology
Keywords: Akwesasne Mohawk Nation, Chronic stress, Cognitive appraisals, Contamination, Lazarus, Mohawk
Publication Number: 3402998
ISBN: 978-1-109-75836-8
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