Tag: toxicity

Toxicity, Violence, and the Legacies of Mercury and Gold Mining in Colombia

Toxic substances are often portrayed as stubborn molecules that resist being restricted to the places where we would like to contain them in order to free ourselves from the environmental and health damage they cause us . Mercury —a heavy metal used for different products and industrial processes— illustrates how the effects of these substances are mediated not only by their “stubbornness” or physical-chemical persistence but also by histories of power, violence, and domination. (read more...)

Platypod, Episode Three: Disability, Toxicity, and the Environment

In this episode, Platypod presents a conversation between Elizabeth Roberts (the University of Michigan) and Sophia Jaworski (the University of Toronto). They discuss the complexities of corporeal life in toxic environments. This episode was created with the participation of Elizabeth Roberts (the University of Michigan, speaker), Sophia Jaworski (the University of Toronto, speaker), Svetlana Borodina (Columbia University, host, producer), Gebby Keny (Rice University, host, sound editor), and Angela VandenBroek (Texas State University, CASTAC web producer). The transcript of their conversation is available below. We thank Sophia Jaworski for her work on editing the transcript for comprehension. (read more...)

Ethnographies of Nuclear Life: From Victimhood to Post-Victimization

Iitate village, located in Fukushima Prefecture, is typical of rural Japanese hamlets. One finds large arable lands buttressed by imposing mountains that dazzle with emerald-green colors. Iitate fits perfectly this postcard image that many tourists have of rural Japan, with just one difference: among the fields of green are over a million and a half vinyl bags filled with radioactive tainted soils. Rows of black plastic bags, piled on top of each other, form Mayan-like pyramids as far as the eyes can see. (read more...)

Reactions and Ruptures: Ethnographies of Nuclear Life

In one sense, nuclear materials direct our attention to the vibrancy and reactivity of all material life. Nuclear elements such as uranium, radium, thorium, and plutonium regularly leak electrons during the process known as radioactive decay or nuclear disintegration, intra-acting and transforming themselves and others in unpredictable ways (see Barad 2007). At the same time, nuclear events and places are also often framed as ruptures, whether in the form of nuclear weapons detonations, nuclear disaster inquiries, the creation of new nuclear power or waste projects, or the founding of new mines to unearth nuclear elements. From this perspective, nuclear events such as the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster somehow signal a break, implying that before, the Fukushima region was untouched by disruptive energies and effects of the nuclear. A nuclear actor enters, causes a break, and leaves worlds permanently altered. (read more...)

Confronting Legacies of Toxic Goodness: Speculative Reflections from the 4S 2021 Annual Meeting

This piece was originally posted on November 24, 2021 on the EnviroSociety blog here. To cite, please use the following: Caporusso, Jessica, Duygu Kaşdoğan, and Katie Ulrich. 2021. “Confronting Legacies of Toxic Goodness: Speculative Reflections from the 4S 2021 Annual Meeting.” EnviroSociety Blog, November 24. https://www.envirosociety.org/2021/11/confronting-legacies-of-toxic-goodness-speculative-reflections-from-the-4s-2021-annual-meeting/. Renewable energies, green/blue/bio-economies, waste management systems, as well as sustainable agriculture and aquaculture hold within them the possibility of working towards a “Greater Good,” however, “goodness” is frequently built on toxic colonial and capitalist processes that are rendered invisible through sustainability discourse. How can good practices, relationships, and things be cultivated in an environment where toxicants, toxic politics, and toxic relationalities are constantly reproduced? How do toxic production systems—based on extractivism, colonialism, and plantation capitalism—foment new forms of sustainability that cannot be excised from these deadly foundations? (read more...)

Knowledge Production, Toxic Corporate Capital, and the Anthropologist’s Entangled Ethics

The dominant disciplinary literature on cultures and practices of extractivism relies on a separation of “the field,” and the insights gained there, from our professional lives as anthropologists in an academy culturally and socially situated in the “Global North.” Increasingly, such distinctions fail to hold as the consequences of extractivism and the conflicts that it produces arrive at the doorstep of the anthropologist’s place of work. I wrote this piece as I grappled with how to frame the effects of toxicity from gold mining in ways that fully accounted for its vast reach beyond “the field” and beyond the material forms (gaseous, liquid, sludgy, in blood levels, as illness symptoms) that I expected it to take. In grappling with the extensive nature of mining toxicity, events occurred to shift my attention to the transnational webs of capital, and the forms of life such toxicity generates. I began to ask: Beyond (read more...)