CfP: Toxic Politics // Science as Culture

Images from

Images from “balloon mapping” of an oil spill in the Chandeleur Islands, May 9, 2010. Images captured via balloon by Mariko Toyoji, Stewart Long and Shannon Dosemagen. Images stitched by Stewart Long. See Public Lab for more on balloon mapping. 

Call for Papers: Toxic Politics in Science as Culture
Co-editors: Manuel Tironi, Nerea Calvillo, Max Liboiron,, &
People have been creating new forms of toxic politics in the 21st century. The global economy produces pervasive contaminants, harmful pollutants, damaging particles, and poisonous atmospheres, which are inescapably part of everyday life. With new quantities and qualities of toxicants, sensing and affect have also taken on new modes, which become central to controversies over evidence of harm. Ordinary people, scientists, and other experts are coming together to form emergent publics; they create novel links between evidence and action – the crux of toxic politics.
Toxicants are completely enmeshed in living systems at both molecular and global ecological scales. They are ubiquitous yet unevenly distributed, both geographically and epidemiologically. They are often invisible, unruly, recalcitrant and difficult to identify scientifically. Subtle, ambiguous forms of toxicity are not recognized by toxicological science.
In response to those threats, public actions have been politicizing toxic substances and their futures. Various collectives are devising novel ways to identify toxicity, and then to express modes of harm. Other collectives are experimenting with new methods of making suffering visible; they include protocols and evidence not validated by expert cadres. These groups are changing how toxic sensing and affect are expressed, for instance by utilizing bodies, plants or DIY technologies as sentinel devices. Citizen-led collaborations with these devices create new recursive arenas of intervention and participation, hence strengthening collective action. For example, people with chemical sensitivity syndrome use their own bodies to identify harm; non-profit organisations create open source do-it-yourself technologies for environmental monitoring. Other collectives demand their right to know the source of various environmental injustices underpinning their lives; they link toxics with the political power that has shaped development patterns, especially in the global South.
Such ‘toxic politics’ attempts to promote new definitions of harm and their attendant rights for human protection; to create new indicators and contest established epidemiological classifications; to invent alternative ways of governing toxicity and bodies; to problematize chemical accumulation trajectories; and to propose alternative policies, towards different futures. From arsenic to plastics, cases of toxicity have become both means and an ends to doing political work.
This special issue anticipates the future of a permanently ubiquitously toxic world, whereby collectives create new links between science and politics. Some topics addressed are: everyday toxicants as matters of concern; collective experiments with/in chemical uncertainty; expert and non-expert divides and evidence-based toxicology; bodily knowledge, care and affects in the politics of toxic environments; citizen sensing and collaborative methodologies as modes of politicization; chemicals and environmental justice; intervention and ethics.
Abstracts and papers must follow the SaC guidelines:
Deadline for Abstracts: 15 June 2015 (250 words).
Deadline for full papers: 15 January 2016 (8k words maximum for first drafts)
Communication to: Manuel Tironi,