Published on December 8th, 2017 | by GrowWNYAdmin

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Symposium: Chemicals, Bodies, Politics, and Place

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Date/Time
Date(s) – 12/08/2017
3:15 pm – 5:30 pm

Location
Millard Fillmore Academic Center, UB North Campus

Categories


Where: Room 170, in the Millard Fillmore Academic Center of SUNY University at Buffalo, North Campus

We are very excited to end our colloquium series this semester with two star scholars — Drs. Becky Mansfield and Julie Guthman — working on cutting edge research on socio-natures and political ecology. Their work crosses disciplinary boundaries and should be of interest to scholars in a wide range of fields, including the natural and social sciences.

Dr. Becky Mansfield, Ohio State University
Chemical exposure: at the intersection of postgenomics, Anthropocene, and Trump’s deregulatory EPA

Dr. Julie Guthman, University of California-Santa Cruz
Becoming a pathogen: On the topology of soil disease in California’s strawberry industry

ABSTRACTS

Chemical exposure: at the intersection of postgenomics, Anthropocene, and Trump’s deregulatory EPA
Dr. Becky Mansfield, Ohio State University

Over the past decade, there has been an explosion of public, scientific, and regulatory interest in the health effects of chemical exposures in air, water, food, and consumer products. First, this talk will show that emerging “postgenomic” sciences that explain the health effects of chemical exposures are contributing to a sea change in basic understanding of what bodies are: not bounded entities shaped mainly by genetic inheritance, but unbounded entities shaped by socio-environmental circumstances of great spatial and temporal reach. Second, the talk will show the connections between these ideas about the body and notions about the Anthropocene, in which external nature, too, is unbounded. Chemical exposures are manifestations of the openness of both body and environment. Third, the talk will identify two contradictory responses to this new understanding of environmental health, both of which orient more toward economic gain than protection of environments and health. One is to embrace openness and argue not for increased regulation but for increased adaptation. The other—now prominent in Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency—is to reject this view of openness (claim that there is no environmental and bodily harm) and deregulate polluting industries. Finally, the talk will comment on what is missing across these perspectives, which is a focus on socio-environmental justice and the material distribution of harm and benefit.

Becoming a pathogen: On the topology of soil disease in California’s strawberry industry
Dr. Julie Guthman, University of California-Santa Cruz

Since the 1960s, California’s highly lucrative, albeit beleaguered, strawberry industry has come to depend on a suite of toxic soil fumigants to suppress the widespread plant pathogen Verticillium dahliae, along with other soil-borne pests. Methyl bromide, in particular, has been responsible for the ample berries that Americans and others have come to enjoy nearly year round. Yet, as an ozone depleting substance it has been phased out, while other fumigants have come to face enhanced restrictions. Consequently, other, more virulent pathogens have newly appeared, causing the plants of many unlucky (and often undercapitalized) growers to wilt and die. Drawing on work by geographers S. Hinchcliffe and colleagues, in this talk Dr. Guthman will unearth a topological understanding of pathogen emergence. In this rendering pathogenicity does not inhere in an organism but in a situation in which heterogeneous elements and forces “intra-act.” Therefore, disease outbreaks are less a product of invasions of hostile species than convergences of events that intensify relationships, bringing immanent qualities to the surface. Given the concatenation of threats, prospects for a truly sustainable strawberry production assemblage are elusive.


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