The materiality of invisibility: on making EDCs into actionable objects
Mariana Rios Sandoval (University of Amsterdam)
Paper short abstract:
Invisibility is often portrayed as something that makes endocrine disrupting chemicals difficult to grasp. I will argue that sometimes invisibility is far from being an obstacle for the apprehension of EDCs, but that it can rather be used to turn EDCs into objects about which something can be done.
Paper long abstract:
'Invisibility' is often portrayed as something that makes endocrine disrupting chemicals difficult to grasp. Often the term invisibility is used to communicate that EDCs are slippery objects: these are pervasive and invisible molecules, with uncertain effects and complex mechanisms of action that defy the current toxicological paradigm 'the rule makes the poison'. My focus in this presentation is on the way people deal with EDCs' invisibility in order to make them into objects about which something can be done in the realms of politics and everyday life. Using insights from my PhD research on the way young environmental activists in France rearrange everyday life and mobilize politically in order to fight off EDCs, I will draw attention to how EDCs' invisibility is situated in a set of relationships and practices. By doing so I aim to throw light at what EDCs, which often serve as a proxy for all ordinary exposures to toxic chemicals, or the toxicity of everyday life, do for young environmentally conscious people. A focus on the materiality of invisibility -on its practices, relations and understandings- reveals that rather than being an obstacle for the apprehension of EDCs, invisibility is used to give the problem of EDCs size, tangibility and relevance, thus turning EDCs into actionable objects.
Toxicity in the 21st century