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

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: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM
Room: Grand Couteau, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Organizers: Carly Nichols, Nari Senanayake
Chairs: Nari Senanayake


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.

Potential 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 Carly Nichols*, University of Arizona - Geography & Development, Digesting agricultural development: critical nutrition analysis of paddy promotion in central India 20 3:20 PM
Presenter Skye Naslund*, University of Washington, Unnatural Synthesis: Helminthic Therapy, Biomedical Research, and Defining What is ‘Natural’ 20 3:40 PM
Presenter Archie Davies*, King's College London, Histories of hunger: Latin American Nutritional History and the Metabolic Scales of Nutrition 20 4:00 PM
Presenter Fiona Gladstone*, University of Arizona - School of Geography and Development, Evaluating Food Assistance Policy in Oaxaca, Mexico: A Political Ecology of the Body (PEB) Approach 20 4:20 PM
Discussant Nari Senanayake Pennsylvania State University 20 4:40 PM

To access contact information login