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Suzana Sawyer Awarded the Prestigious American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship

Suzana Sawyer has been awarded the prestigious American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship for 2017-1018 for her research project “Suing Chevron: Law, Science, and Contamination in Ecuador and Beyond." Founded in 1919, the ACLS is the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and related social sciences whose endowment is supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Council’s Research University Consortium. Sawyer is one of 70 national scholars (out of 1,200 applicants) to whom the ACLS awarded a 2017-2018 Fellowship for the outstanding intellectual vitality of their research and its potential to bring new understandings of the human experience.

Rarely do complaints of contamination in marginalized places reach a court of law, let along get litigated or, much less, prevail. Sawyer’s research traces the events that compelled an Ecuadorian court to render a $9 billion ruling against the Chevron Corporation for environmental contamination in 2011, and, compelled the U.S. District Court to delegitimize that judgment five years later. Countering Chevron’s successful “corruption” narrative, her project explores how (despite its flaws) the Ecuadorian litigation might serve as an instructive socio-legal forum for reckoning near-intractable contamination disputes; its significance for transnational jurisprudence and environmental accountability is far-reaching. In a world where complex systems connect the fates of disparate human and nonhuman communities and where ever-multiplying events of indeterminate harm result from corporate activity, careful attention to how we reconcile challenging socio-ecological controversies—as well as make sense of formidable corporate challenges—is called for. Sawyer's project seeks to intervene toward that end.