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Pollution and ubiquity: altered and altering socio-technical worlds 
Misria Shaik Ali (Woxsen University, Hyderabad)
Tridibesh Dey (Aarhus University)
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Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

The panel interknits socio-technical experiences and experiments of living with pollution (say, with chemicals, plastics, radioactivity, or caste). This includes emergent everyday practices that subvert and reinvent technological artifacts, knowledge, infrastructures, and social institutions.

Long Abstract:

How are socio-technical configurations, infrastructures, bodies, land and relations altered (Murphy 2017) and/or reinvented in landscapes where pollution is everywhere and nowhere? This panel brings together and interknits everyday experiences of living with pollution and emergent practices thereof, that reinvent technological artifacts, infrastructures, scientific knowledge, and social institutions to agentially subvert their “intended” purposes. Paper proposals can highlight and reflect upon embodied knowledge practices of health and contamination in polluted landscapes garnered through citizen science, community activism and other engaged experiments that actively deconstruct epistemic and procedural injustice of technoscience (Liboiron 2021). Paper interventions can borrow from fields including, but not limited to, environmental humanities and social sciences, discard studies, innovation studies, field philosophy and critical infrastructure studies.

Subversive reinventions may look like marginalized social actors salvaging, repurposing discarded plastic carrier bags and containers to care-fully equip and enact everyday living (Dey 2021; Dey and Michael 2021). Or, farmers around Tummalapalle uranium mine in India who alter the prescribed use of drip irrigation motors, in ways to reduce the distribution of irradiated water onto agricultural fields and contribute to health and food safety (Shaik Ali 2023).

Here, ubiquity is conceptualized with a sensibility for practical situatedness that goes beyond its normative meaning of omnipresence. In this way, the ubiquity of pollution that attracts solutions from everywhere and nowhere embedded in techno-solutionism and scientism like geoengineering or ocean cleanups, are gazed back from situated practices emerging from social and embodied knowledge experiments of living with pollution. We are resisting frameworks that treat pollution as a defiling device unsettling supposedly pure bodies and landscapes. Instead, we welcome research and reflections that analyze how pollution itself is enacted and transformed as it relates with complex socio-technical landscapes, already unsettled (not least by extant relations of caste, gender, religion, race, disability, etc.).

Accepted papers: