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Accepted Paper:

“Ce me ne futte a me?” Pollution, belonging and co-noticing in a fenceline community (Taranto, Italy)  
Angelo Raffaele Ippolito (University of Oxford) Anna Lora-Wainwright (University of Oxford)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper explores how Taranto residents reconcile pollution awareness with attachment to their city. It introduces 'co-noticing' as a lens for understanding this complex relationship, highlighting its role in fostering community resilience and new perspectives on justice.

Paper Abstract:

This paper problematises environmental justice-based narratives of pollution in a community home to Europe’s largest steel factory (Taranto, Italy). Based on auto/ethnographic research conducted between 2020 and 2023, we reflect on how residents of Taranto’s most polluted neighbourhood engage with processes of worldmaking that are both in contrast with and premised on the affect of industrial toxicants. These contrasting propositions co-exist in the culturally resonant rhetorical question “ce me ne futte a me?” (what do I care?), often used by study participants to dismiss claims about the gravity of pollution and assert their belonging to the place.

Following Eve Tuck’s (2009) call to ‘suspend damage’, we argue that “ce me ne futte a me” is a cultural idiom bridging an awareness of the harm of pollution with a strong sense of attachment to the city. We propose co-noticing as a conceptual lens that protects what would otherwise be erased by a unilinear narrative of harm. Co-noticing allows residents not to focus entirely on pollution, but neither to ignore it completely, implying an understanding of toxicity as imbricated with powerful experiences of belonging and community-making. Co-noticing enables an understanding of why attachments persist in places that dominant discourses deem to be fit only for sacrifice and abandonment. The strategies of co-noticing observed in this paper are an attempt to call these neglected relationalities into being, creating new value for the community as a space where new ideas about the world and justice can be generated.

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