Lectures

Lightning strikes, or how an object of global health is made

When we were children my mother always told us there was nothing to fear from thunderstorms. But it was hard not to notice that she did so whilst running around the house disconnecting every electrical appliance. She compared her “sensible” approach to the superstitious excesses of her own mother who, at the sound of rumbling thunder, would gather the cutlery …

Lectures

How should we study intergenerational trauma? Reflections on a 30-year birth cohort study in Soweto, South Africa

My parents immigrated to the United States from South Korea in the late 80’s in search of political stability and socioeconomic opportunity. While they did not come with much money or many belongings, as children of survivors of Japanese colonialism and the Korean War, my parents brought with them the heavy burdens of historical trauma from militarized occupation and their …

Lectures

Gloves, embryos, and DDT: thinking with surfaces on toxicity in South Africa

In the early 1980s, researchers at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa were confounded by the persistent failure of their experimental mice embryos. The researchers had hoped to develop the first successful in vitro fertilization (IVF) programme in Africa. Yet, attempt after attempt, the mice embryos died. One researcher recounted to me later that he reviewed other protocols and …