Lectures

9/11 and Beyond: Our World of Toxic Exposure/COVID-19 Syndemics

For the last 25 years, in my work as an applied medical anthropologist, I have called attention to and explored syndemics, the biosocial adverse interaction of two or more diseases and the social conditions of the local or regional context in which they occur. The study of syndemics offers a way to address both health risks and unjust and …

Lectures

The potentials and challenges of citizen science: 9 years of experience from post-Fukushima Japan

The Fukushima nuclear disaster took place nine years ago, but the current situation does not allow us to put it behind us completely. The site is producing up to 750 tons of contaminated water every day, pressuring the capacity of the holding tanks. The decommissioning of the plants is still ongoing and is expected to take decades to complete (…

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 …

Lectures

Toxic Disavowal

Figure 1. “Residents want out of industrial ghetto.” Photo by Lloyd Fox for the Baltimore Sun, 1998.

In April 1998, Jeanette succumbed to terminal cancer. She was only 56. Her obituary described her as a “high-energy grandmother with short, spiky hair” and a committed “environmental activist.”[1] Jeanette died fighting for a buyout of her home on Wagner’s Point, a …

Lectures

Toxicology and the chemistry of cohort kinship

Birth cohort studies are characterized as longitudinal investigations of research subjects with at least one common characteristic, usually being born in the same time and place. Such studies are increasingly common around the world and across a number of disciplines (Gibbon and Pentecost 2019), including toxicology. The small group of approximately twenty reproductive and developmental toxicologists I researched while conducting …

BooksLectures

Book Forum: Daniel Renfrew’s Life Without Lead: Contamination, Crisis, and Hope in Uruguay

Introduction

Daniel Renfrew’s Life Without Lead: Contamination, Crisis, and Hope in Uruguay (2018) is a masterful undertaking on the anthropology of disaster and its everydayness. An ethnographic portrayal that is prismatic in its attention, the book combines numerous elements––place, civic performance, history, political economy––to bear on the lead poisoning epidemic in Montevideo, Uruguay at the turn of the 21st

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