Methodologies for Living with Toxicity: Polluting Infrastructures and Environmental, Reproductive and Racial Injustice in North London

Monday, 24 June, 2024 - 16:00

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In this exploratory paper, I invite you to visit the Edmonton Waste Incinerator in North London. Since 2020, climate justice and Black Lives Matter activists have been campaigning against the expansion of this already polluting infrastructure. The incinerator currently burns about 500,000 tons of waste a year and its fumes release lead, mercury, and ultra-fine particulate matter into one of London’s poorest neighborhoods. Physicians contesting the plans to expand the incinerator have presented the adverse health outcomes this will have for newborns and pregnant people, while local politicians warn of long-term public health consequences. Discussing these findings, I illustrate how air pollution – past, present, and projected – needs to be conceptualized through an intersectional lens, as environmental, reproductive, and racial injustice. Secondly, given the latency and accumulation of pollution and toxicity in the human body, I ask if (and how) we can witness the unfolding of “slow violence” of polluting infrastructures as they are being built and rebuilt. Drawing from anti-colonial science and technology studies and queer ecology, I argue that living with toxicity complicates how we study health inequalities.

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