Rochelle Johnson: Living in an Amputated World

The evening before the operation, she sat alone on the floor of her living room, held her left leg in her hands and silently said goodbye. The doctors had mentioned that, after the operation, she might have some kind “phantom” syndrome in which her young, twenty-year-old body would forget to remember that part of her was missing. A kind of “tingling” feeling might be left in place of her leg, they foresaw. What the doctors didn’t anticipate were the screams of pain Rochelle would endure long after the operation; they continued to cry out in the days, weeks and years thereafter. Her body struggled to accept the loss of her left leg. Since that evening when she last held her leg, she has become a leading scholar of the Environmental Humanities and a fierce opponent of the industrial desecration of natural habitats. Professor Rochelle L. Johnson, Chair of Environmental Studies at the College of Idaho and President of the Thoreau Society, joins Vienna Live to talk about how the climate crisis is more than just the “tingling” response of an amputated biosphere.

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Photo: Fimiston Open Pit gold mine, Australia, in August, 2019 [Credit: Alexey V. Kurochkin])