Texting Like A State: mHealth and the first thousand days in South Africa

This article is part of the series:

What does making a new life look like from the perspective of a mobile phone?

For the phone of a woman using the public health care system in Cape Town, South Africa, in all likelihood involves a series of WhatsApp conversations with a partner, with friends and kin. The phone helps with “Googling” questions about health and childcare, maybe about …



In the late 1990s, a group of Japanese researchers set out to investigate whether small-scale gold mining operations near the shores of East Africa’s Lake Victoria were resulting in mercury contamination of local fish and human populations. The group included Dr. Masazumi Harada who began his medical career in the early 1960s by studying the devastating effects of severe mercury …



Waste and toxicity are foundational categories of knowledge for the Anthropocene. Consider how natural scientists approach the topic. Empirically, the “great acceleration” they’ve identified corresponds to a massive increase in human-generated wastes: carbon molecules, toxic chemicals, radioactive particles, plastics, and much more. Measuring molecular concentrations of these materials, and mapping these measurements onto models of earth systems (such as the …



The ocean has long been considered the ideal location for the disposal of waste—including, among many other things, treated and untreated sewage poured easily into the sea, the vast quantities of sand and earth displaced into continental margins by harbor dredging, and the irredeemable byproducts of nuclear reactions secretly sunk. The ocean’s vastness, viscerally encountered and culturally reproduced, has seemed …



Mining is a toxic business and gold mining is particularly noxious. Mercury and cyanide pollute river-ways and sentient bodies. The large-scale evacuation of earth often acidifies water tables, literally “lying waste” to land by making it unusable for agriculture and pastoralism. Elsewhere in this series, Claudia Gastrow, Jennifer Wenzel, and Lynn Thomas describe the political architecture of latent …