Summary of the 12th EASLCE Webinar: Toxic Embodiment by Cecilia Åsberg and Marietta Radomska
Aug 25 at 10:30-12:00 CEST
Hosts: Prof. Cecilia Åsberg, Linköping University, Sweden, and Dr. Marietta Radomska, Linköping University, Sweden
Molina Klingler, University of Würzburg, Germany (moderator, co-coordinator)
Harri Salovaara, University of Jyväskylä, Finland (co-coordinator)
Azucena Castro, Stockholm University, Sweden
Hannah Klaubert, Giessen University, Germany
Louise Rondel , Goldsmiths, University of London, UK
Celina Annabell Stifjell, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway
Eight senior and junior ecocritics from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Germany, and the UK gathered together on Saturday morning on August 25th for the 12th EASLCE webinar. The webinar was for the first time hosted by two scholars, Prof. Cecilia Åsberg and Dr. Marietta Radomska, both from the Posthumanities Hub at Linköping University in Sweden. The webinar’s topic this time was toxic embodiment, and the discussion centered on issues of toxicity, gender, sexuality, and embodiment.
In their introduction to the webinar, Prof. Åsberg and Dr. Radomska outlined the general importance of realizing how prevalent different toxins are in the world and how they are entangled with other current environmental issues such as climate change and the accumulation of plastics in the environment. As examples of current “toxic culture,” they highlighted issues in the pharmaceutical and food industries and discussed how these together create “toxic embodiment”.
Referring to the webinar readings, Prof. Åsberg and Dr. Radomska raised the issue of “sex panic” in both mainstream media and popular science and how that contributes to problematic notions of normativity and health. As in the previous EASLCE webinar with Dr. Bergthaller, Roberto Esposito’s notions of biopolitics were discussed, and Rachel Carson’s pioneering work in highlighting the repercussions to the environment of the use of toxins was also recognized.
Ending the introductory part of the webinar, Prof. Åsberg and Dr. Radomska affirmed the importance of inviting feminist and queer voices into current ecocritical discussions, and also raised questions such as why sex and sexuality, and not for example cancer rates relating to toxins, are overemphasized in contemporary media, and how, toxicity being a current “condition of life,” can art contribute to seeking solutions to the problem of toxicity.
When the other webinar participants joined the discussion, the topics raised included the following:
- the concept of “toxic communities” especially relating to the 1984 Bhopal industrial disaster
- “radiotoxicity,” Chernobyl and the impossibility of resilience in some circumstances, as well as the planned Finnish nuclear waste site Onkalo
- the “naturalizing” of women’s, instead of men’s, usage of contraceptives
- hormones used in industrial animal farming
- class differences in access to knowledge regarding proper waste management
As in previous webinars, the discussion at the end of the webinar broadened to encompass other current ecocritical issues as well as the upcoming EASLCE conference in Würzburg, Germany. Once again, the lively discussion throughout the webinar meant that after the 90-minute time slot for the webinar was at an end, tocix embodiment and other issues covered in the discussion had generated several new questions that the webinar participants agreed to discuss among themselves later on.