Infrastructures of Exposure: Toxicity, Temporality and Political Economies in Africa

A workshop held at Darwin College and CRASSH, Cambridge on 13 March 2014


Dr Noémi Tousignant  (Anthropologies of Africa Biosciences, University of Cambridge)
Dr Branwyn Poleykett (Research Fellow, Division of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge)

Full programme and abstracts

Toxic exposure, whether acute or chronic, challenges the temporalities of public health monitoring and response. Dissonance between the effects of poisons, whether sudden or cumulative, and the rhythms of toxicological knowledge-making can be accentuated by situations of social inequality. Emerging problems of toxic exposure in Africa highlight relations between socioeconomic vulnerability, representations of marginality and obstacles to durable medical, scientific and regulatory capacity.

This workshop brought together scholars using the concept of ‘infrastructure’ for analyzing inequalities in embodied and techno-scientific perceptions of toxic exposure, with innovative thinkers on the relations between infrastructure, temporality and political economy. By examining what happens to scientific, industrial and transport infrastructures over time, workshop participants reflected on how configurations of political economy generate specific relations between anticipation and memory (including that of bodies and environments), between accumulation and dispossession, between exposure and knowledge, and between continuity and fragmentation.