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Environmental Dis-ease. Co-productions of Toxic Politics

27. Okto­ber – 28. Okto­ber 2022 

Work­shop at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vienna

Please find below a call for con­tri­bu­tions for the work­shop „Envi­ron­men­tal Dis-ease. Co-pro­duc­tions of Tox­ic Pol­i­tics”. This call is des­tined to ear­ly career researchers (doc/­post-doc) sit­u­at­ed in Vien­na. The work­shop will take place at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vien­na on Octo­ber 27–28, 2022. We would appre­ci­ate you shar­ing the call with inter­est­ed researchers and/or dis­trib­ut­ing it through the mail­ing list of your insti­tu­tion.

We invite poten­tial par­tic­i­pants to send us their con­tri­bu­tions by 30 Sep­tem­ber 2022.



Envi­ron­men­tal Dis-ease. Co-pro­duc­tions of Tox­ic Pol­i­tics
Uni­ver­si­ty of Vien­na, Octo­ber 27–28, 2022

Con­vened by
Jan­i­na Kehr (Uni­ver­si­ty of Vien­na, Depart­ment of Social and Cul­tur­al Anthro­pol­o­gy)
Kaushik Sun­der Rajan (Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go, Depart­ment of Anthro­pol­o­gy)

With the sup­port of Chica­go-Vien­na Fac­ul­ty Grants


Recent­ly, schol­ars in med­ical anthro­pol­o­gy and crit­i­cal glob­al health have start­ed to con­cep­tu­al­ize a crit­i­cal envi­ron­men­tal anthro­pol­o­gy of med­i­cine and the body. It looks at the ways that late indus­tri­al­ism affects bod­ies and health uneven­ly and how large-scale bio­med­ical efforts to cure bod­ies and dis­eases impact peo­ples, places and envi­ron­ments in mul­ti­ple and unequal ways. In so doing, these stud­ies have crit­i­cal­ly explored the cur­rent con­text of high social, racial and eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ties and exploita­tion, pre­oc­cu­py­ing cli­mate change and ris­ing envi­ron­men­tal pol­lu­tion. Oth­er schol­ars have tried to grap­ple with the envi­ron­men­tal iatro­ge­n­e­sis of bio­med­i­cine in late indus­tri­al­ism, explor­ing the ways bio­med­i­cine not only solves health prob­lems, but also pro­duces new ones relat­ed to envi­ron­men­tal tox­i­c­i­ty and pol­lu­tion.

The leak­age of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sub­stances through bod­ies, insti­tu­tions and indus­tries in waters and soils is just one exam­ple. Anoth­er is the envi­ron­men­tal foot­print of increas­ing­ly resource inten­sive health­care sys­tems. Such forms of envi­ron­men­tal iatro­ge­n­e­sis of bio­med­i­cine are like­ly to be dis­trib­uted high­ly uneven­ly among peo­ples, com­mu­ni­ties and regions of the world. Con­tin­u­ous bio­med­ical­iza­tion is depen­dent on local and glob­al pro­duc­tion, sup­ply and dis­card chains (of phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals, tech­ni­cal devices, ener­gy resources) that are envi­ron­men­tal­ly and social­ly con­se­quen­tial. In addi­tion to these strands of research, oth­er stud­ies have tack­led ques­tions of tech­no­log­i­cal­ly-induced eco­log­i­cal ruina­tion and health relat­ed issues by engag­ing crit­i­cal­ly with the tox­ic mate­ri­als, imag­i­nar­ies, and exploita­tive rela­tions, exam­in­ing how human and more-than-human beings expe­ri­ence tox­i­c­i­ty and health-dete­ri­o­rat­ed exis­tences.

In light of such cur­rent schol­ar­ly inter­est, the present work­shop con­sid­ers the rela­tion­ships between envi­ron­men­tal tox­i­c­i­ty, bio­med­i­cine, sci­ence and forms of racial­ized cap­i­tal­ism with­in long colo­nial his­to­ries whose after­lives con­tin­ue into the present. It asks how envi­ron­men­tal tox­i­c­i­ty and high­ly cap­i­tal­ized forms of bio­med­i­cine and sci­ence are co-pro­duced in ways that are to be his­tor­i­cal­ly and polit­i­cal­ly sit­u­at­ed.

Call for Con­tri­bu­tions

We invite ear­ly career schol­ars sit­u­at­ed in Vien­na (PhD stu­dents and post-doc­tor­al researchers) to sub­mit a short dec­la­ra­tion of inter­est and an abstract of 250–300 words, to par­tic­i­pate in a two-day work­shop on the top­ic of „Envi­ron­men­tal Dis-ease. Co-pro­duc­tions of Tox­ic Pol­i­tics”, to be held at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vien­na on Octo­ber 27–28, 2022. The work­shop will include work-in-progress dis­cus­sions with inter­na­tion­al col­leagues, the par­tic­i­pa­tion in a pub­lic per­for­mance lec­ture, and an envi­ron­ment-and-health „data walk” in Vien­na. While work­shop par­tic­i­pants will thus present their own work-in-progress, there will also be time for more cre­ative and infor­mal engage­ments with the work­shop top­ic. Cof­fee and lunch will be pro­vid­ed.

For the dia­log­i­cal pur­pose of the work­shop, var­i­ous for­mats of con­tri­bu­tion are pos­si­ble. Please let us know in your dec­la­ra­tion of inter­est which for­mat would be most suit­able for you: this could be a clas­si­cal 15-minute pre­sen­ta­tion with Q&A, a short ethno­graph­ic writ­ing sam­ple to be dis­cussed, a the­o­ret­i­cal argu­ment to be probed, etc. We wel­come empir­i­cal­ly informed con­tri­bu­tions and par­tic­i­pants from var­i­ous dis­ci­plines (Anthro­pol­o­gy, Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Stud­ies, Soci­ol­o­gy, Polit­i­cal Sci­ences, Crit­i­cal Glob­al Health, His­to­ry of Sci­ence and Med­i­cine), whose exper­tise and inter­ests inter­sect with the themes above and explore con­nec­tions between health, envi­ron­ment, pol­lu­tion, sci­ence and post-colo­nial rela­tions.

Col­leagues present dur­ing the work­shop include Kaushik Sun­der Rajan, Sta­cy Hardy, Ciera Kier­ans, Gior­gio Broc­co, Cameron Hu and Jan­i­na Kehr.

Please send your con­tri­bu­tions to Jan­i­na Kehr ( and Mara Köh­ler ( by 30 Sep­tem­ber 2022. Infor­mal inquiries can be addressed to Mara Köhler.