Home beyond species. More-than-human dwelling in the age of crises
Launch of the 2022–2024 Tandem project, supported by CEFRES, CNRS and the Czech Academy of Sciences
When: Tuesday 19 April 2022, 1–3 pm
Where: CEFRES and online (to register please contact claire(@)cefres.cz)
Convenors (2022–2024 Tandem team):
Petr Gibas (Institute of Sociology, Czech Academy of Sciences / CEFRES),
Chloé Mondémé (Triangle CNRS / CEFRES)
With a key-note speech by Birgit Müller (EHESS):
Toxic Worlds and the Power of Denial
Abstract of the key-note
Bureaucrats and politicians have long turned a blind eye to the accumulation of small toxic doses in soils, groundwater, oceans and in bodies. Toxic waste from industrial processes have been tolerated as a price to pay for living “progress” and “growth. Anthropologists are interested in the capacity of humans to render invisible and deny the toxic evidence, and in the stubborn refusal to observe and understand the real material consequences of our economic and technical system. Denial makes the invisible traces and effects of the catastrophe disappear. A powerful weapon, it allows to normalize a situation in a way that reproduces rational logic while producing a deep abandonment to the evil of non-reflection. To speak of pollution is to recognize its immense power to render a hitherto familiar space uninhabitable.
Ethnographic fieldwork shows that chemical relations do not begin and end where the chemical industry and the state think they do. Instead of following bureaucratic reasoning and official science, it seeks to understand the intimate experiences that men and women have with toxic products and pollution. Nuclear power, pesticides, mining projects, everyday chemicals, industrial waste, plastics, the Seveso disaster are taken by their effects on bodies, and by the way they reflect and accentuate social, gender, class and racial inequalities. The reasoning of the bodies calls for a universal right to breath.