Books

Susanna Trnka’s One Blue Child: Asthma, Responsibility, and the Politics of Global Health

One Blue Child: Asthma, Responsibility, and the Politics of Global Health

By Susanna Trnka

Stanford University Press, 2017, 262 pages.

 

Bringing children to the field can change an anthropologist’s relationship to fieldwork immensely. For University of Auckland anthropologist, Susanna Trnka, bringing her children to the Czech Republic quickly became a confronting medical experience when her nine-year-old daughter suffered her …

Features

Beach

Beaches are good places to think with about waste and ruination. They were once generically places of waste (in the etymological sense of “unoccupied, uncultivated”) while recognized as actants in processes of ruination—including erosion that produced their defining shingle and sand, the death and decay of what washes up on them, and the shipwrecks they induced. In the industrializing world …

Features

Body

It is increasingly impossible to think of the problem of waste, or discarded and denigrated materials, separately from the problem of race, or discarded and denigrated people. There are at least two ways to think about this association: in terms of proximity or consubstantiality and in terms of resemblance or metaphorical substitution. On the one hand, people and communities of …

Features

Residue

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 …

Features

Drift

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 …

Features

Minerals

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 …