Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

Degree Granting Department

Geography, Environment and Planning

Major Professor

M. Martin Bosman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Strom, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Michael J. Lynch, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Steven Reader, Ph.D.


Neoliberalism, Environmental Justice, Lead exposure, Criminology, Agnotology


In recent years, there has been a great deal of debate about the pervasiveness and persistence of neoliberal thinking. In the context of the post-2008 ‘great recession’ the resilience of neoliberalism is particularly confounding. To begin to unravel the ways in which neoliberalism is situated relative to risk, this study identifies an increasingly important neoliberal knowledge practice: malagnogenesis. Malagnogenesis is proposed herein as the production of ignorance that normalizes harm for and amongst marginalized populations. To shed light on the phenomena of malagnogenesis, this study investigated the history of leaded gasoline in the U.S. To that end, I followed the production of ignorance from the introduction of gasoline lead additives in the early 1920s to the contemporary discursive failure surrounding the impact that leaded gasoline has had on late 20th century urban crime rates. Finally, this study supported the hypothesis of malagnogenesis in academia via a survey of academics.