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Ambivalent substances: chemosocialities in life-death worlds [Medical Anthropology Europe (MAE)] 
Max Schnepf (Freie Universität Berlin)
Marcos Freire de Andrade Neves (Freie Universität Berlin)
Giorgio Brocco (University of Vienna)
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Thursday 25 July, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

Chemicals are ambivalent substances that unevenly distribute life and death across entities and geographies with political, ethical, and affective implications. This panel invites reflections on how they are engaged in the production and governance of life-death worlds in chemically altered times.

Long Abstract:

Chemicals are ambivalent substances engaged in the co-production of life-death worlds. Toxicants and other industrial products, such as pharmaceuticals, drugs, and pesticides, shape modes of 'alterlife' (Murphy 2017) and regimes of 'toxic living' (Nading 2020). Invested in politics of death and ways of living (Liboiron et al. 2020), they can enact feelings of belonging while also fostering extractive and neocolonial relations.

Chemical agents, whether organic or artificially-produced, can promote health or cause suffering, induce pleasure or enforce seclusion. They have the potential to either bring pleasure or inflict harm, to heal or to kill. They facilitate the establishment and emergence of biosocial communities, shaping not only our ways of being in the world but also of dying in it.

Drawing on the recent anthropological interest in chemicals (Shapiro and Kirksey 2017), this panel explores the politics, ethics and affects of living and dying in relation to chemicals. It invites scholars to reflect on the chemosocialities produced and governed within life-death worlds. Topics we aim to address in this panel include, but are not limited to, the following:

- how chemicals act on human and more-than-human bodies and organisms in ways that are destructive or beneficial to their health and well-being.

- the ways chemicals uphold and co-produce global inequalities, unevenly distributing life and death across diverse geographies, groups, and people.

- ethical imperatives of living and dying in chemically altered times.

- how to methodologically engage with chemicals in their ambivalence.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Thursday 25 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Thursday 25 July, 2024, -