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Accepted Paper:

“Attempting to remediate the bodies”. A chemoethnography of biochemical research in relation to β-hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH) contamination in the Valle del Sacco.  
Giulia Arrighetti (University of Turin)

Paper Short Abstract:

Based on an ongoing chemoethnography, this paper proposes exploring the relationship between scientific production and the experience of β-hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH) contamination in the Valle del Sacco (Italy), focusing on the tension between land remediation and the 'remediation' of bodies.

Paper Abstract:

In the 1950s, the Valle del Sacco, encompassing the metropolitan area of Rome and the province of Frosinone, Italy, became part of the incentive programs of the Cassa per il Mezzogiorno d'Italia, attracting both Italian and foreign investments. The environmental impact of this industrialization became apparent in 2005 when non-compliant concentrations of β-hexachlorocyclohexane (β-HCH), were found in the milk of various livestock farms. β-HCH is a byproduct ad an isomer of Lindane, the organochlorine pesticide produced by Snia Caffaro Srl in Colleferro and extensively used in global agriculture in the past decades. The contamination source was the Sacco River, coursing through the valley, resulting from the illicit disposal of industrial waste, thus contaminating the entire food chain. Subsequently, the Valle del Sacco basin was designated as a National Interest Site for Reclamation (SIN). However, nearly twenty years later, reclamation initiatives remain incomplete.

For over a decade, a biochemistry research team at the Department of Biochemical Sciences "A. Rossi Fanelli" at Sapienza University of Rome has been investigating the toxic effects of this molecule on various cell lines, defining its spectrum of carcinogenic action, and exploring the protective role of natural bioactive compounds.

This paper, rooted in ongoing ethnographic research within the team's laboratory and in the Valle del Sacco, aims to explore the relationship between scientific production and the experience of contamination (Shapiro& Kirksey 2017; Murphy 2021) with a particular focus on the tension between remediating the territory and "remediating" the bodies.

Panel P009
Ambivalent substances: chemosocialities in life-death worlds [Medical Anthropology Europe (MAE)]
  Session 1 Thursday 25 July, 2024, -