Accepted Paper:

Intensive scales: what is an ecologically obliged chemistry?  

Author:

Dimitris Papadopoulos (University of Leicester)

Paper short abstract:

Based on research within leading green chemistry labs and fieldwork in sites of autonomous community chemical practice the talk explores the ecological becoming of chemistry: contingent experimentations with the singular ecological conditions in which chemical substances emerge.

Paper long abstract:

It is almost impossible to imagine an ecological future beyond anthropogenic chemicals and the end of the toxic regime. The concept of future is human made, and therefore bound to human temporality, especially a western universalist one. Manufactured chemicals however exist in temporal registers ranging from millionths of a second to billions of years. This talk explores scale within a context where the incommensurability of these temporalities makes a global vision of cleaning-up our chemospheres inconceivable.

In the absence of such a universalist vision the meaning of scale as a device of measurement also changes. Rather than a linear quantitative index of the mass of a molecule or its value, I approach scale as an ecology that incorporates different material, technological, social and cultural practices that sustain a molecule of a certain quantity. Molecules change as they change scale; they cannot maintain their existence outside of their ecologies.

Based on research within leading green chemistry labs in the UK and fieldwork in sites of autonomous community chemical practice the paper discusses the becoming ecological of chemical practice. Instead of focussing on extensive scales, an ecologically obliged chemistry engages with intensive transformative processes that depend on their locations and their concrete ontologies. Intensive scales negotiate life within the toxic regime by involving substances in ways that trigger minor qualitative changes in the concrete ecologies in which they exist. Such minor paths of healing entail contingent experimentations with the singular conditions in which chemicals emerge and with the creation of alternative compounds.

Panel A04
Involving compounds