Bodies, environments, subjectivities: new directions in health-environment geographies I

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group, Health and Medical Geography Specialty Group, Geographic Perspectives on Women Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/13/2018
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM (MDT)
Room: Grand Couteau, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Organizers: Carly Nichols, Nari Senanayake
Chairs: Carly Nichols


In the last 15 years, geographers have bridged interests in bodies, health/disease, and environments to form a broad, loosely defined, body of scholarship on health-environment interactions. This literature extends work by nature/society geographers on the sociality of nature, and conceptualizes (un)healthy bodies as 'environments' or 'socio-biological' phenomenon that warrant greater attention and interest from the sub-discipline. Thus feminist insights that a critical scale of analysis is the messy, material body and its own set of situated knowledges has come to be a defining feature of this work (Parr 2002; Hayes-Conroy 2015; Jackson and Neely 2016). Consequently, scholars have endeavored to open up the "black box" of the body (Guthman 2012) and situate health outcomes as important (yet often overlooked) nature-society issues (Mansfield 2008). These theoretical interventions find expression in studies of childbirth (Mansfield 2008), food/nutrition (in)security (Carney 2014; Hayes-Conroy 2015) obesity/metabolic syndrome (Guthman 2011), human-microbial relations (Hinchcliffe et al. 2016), and tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS (Neely 2015; King 2017), among others. Together, this research positions environmental, health, and bodily 'states' as dynamic entities that are iteratively constituted by everything from political economies to discourses, to lively, material and affective happenings.

Clearly this work has been defined by theoretical and methodological pluralism and in this session, we invite a diverse set of papers that advance health-environment studies by drawing on innovative methods, theoretical frameworks, and/or underexplored themes/empirics. We encourage pieces that either use established approaches in new ways or develop new approaches by marshalling insights from cognate fields such as STS, medical anthropology, histories of science/medicine, and feminist science studies. We call on contributors to think about how engagements with literatures outside of geography might extend the way we understand interactions between health and the environment, with implications for key geographic concepts such as scale, bodies, nature, power, and knowledge. In this session, we also push contributors to explore the points of encounter and contradiction between different approaches such as production of health/disease, social constitutions of nature/biology, affect/NRT, and relational ontologies/socionatural bodies. More importantly, we hope to stimulate a discussion of how methodological and theoretical pluralism in health-environment studies might be more effectively deployed to create socially and environmentally just geographies.
Papers could explore areas that have been relatively undertheorized in health-environment studies, including but not limited to:

Subjectivities and assemblages of well-being and dis-ease
Mental health/emotional geographies
Chemical landscapes and contested environmental illnesses
Epigenetics, gene-environment interactions, and plastic/permeable bodies
The politics of (biomedical and bodily) knowledge and politics of diagnosis
Post-human dynamics and relational ontologies
Unpredictable, non-linear and/or contingent health-environment interactions
Uncertainties about health risks and how this mediates knowledges, experiences and outcomes
Intra-corporeal biology and body ecologies
"Disease bundles" and lived experiences of disease


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Aimi Hamraie*, , “Public Bodies, Healthy Spaces, Livable Worlds” 20 1:20 PM
Presenter Pavithra Vasudevan*, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Libby McClure, PhD Candidate, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Toxic Legacies: Racist Epidemiology and Abolitional Possibility 20 1:40 PM
Presenter Paige Patchin*, University of British Columbia, The chemical geographies of empire: Zika, reproduction, and toxicology in Puerto Rico 20 2:00 PM
Presenter Curtis Pomilia*, University of Kentucky, Between state phobia and state addiction: epistemic crises and struggles for care in Flint, MI 20 2:20 PM
Discussant Abigail Neely Dartmouth College 20 2:40 PM

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