The issue of ionizing radiation interacting with the environment has become a disaster to think with in Asia following the catastrophes in northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011. Awareness of radiation in post-disaster sites, the environment, and in workplaces, has lodged anxieties inseparable from everyday life and various imagined futures that implicate societies beyond the archipelago. The spaces and places of Asia bear no exception to the history of modern life sciences efforts to understand the relationships between varying exposures to different substances (not only ionizing radiation) and their various effects. The normalization of anxieties about "exposure and effect" suggests how the chronic radiation issue in Japan represents a galvanizing consciousness about how people of different locations and languages around Asia may be grappling with the consequences of industrial developmental models that seem irreversible within a single human generation.In order to understand why such anxieties of the future have arisen within Asia, it has become necessary to gain a deeper historical comprehension of what the post-industrial, post-disaster moment means to humans inseparable from the biotic world.
In this workshop, analysts whose research sites, archives, and interests are situated within Asia have been invited to explore uncertainty, transparency qua opacity, experimentation, risk, and trust surrounding a series of questions that transcend multiple disciplinary and geographical worlds: How have people investigated the relationships between the minimal rates of exposure to potentially harmful substances and effecting a change in life? What sorts of deliberations and judgments have been constructed through processes of ascertaining safe dose rates for a substance, not just ionizing radiation? How have understandings of the historiography of scientific causality resonated within Asian history of the life sciences, including epidemiology and environment? How have the difficulties of pinpointing the relationships between cause and effect, whether discussed in terms of gross deformities, point mutations, latent illnesses, or in ecological changes, been handled within Asia? To what extent have these discussions or scientific efforts been transnational, and what have the consequences of collaboratively- or nationally-produced science thus been? To what extent have different views in Asia about the role of the environment in engendering generational change informed scientific positions about how the environment interacts with a life form's hereditary constitution? Highly reflexive discussion of these questions should contribute to a greater knowledge base that bears implications for understanding how to navigate and narrate the problem of living with chronic uncertainty about life itself.
By using the cross-hairs of unnatural disasters and biology studies, conventional questions in existing disciplinesósuch as about technocracy and modernization development, gene-environment interactions in history of biology, and cultural explanations for disasterócan be brought into deeper conversation with environmental studies of Asia in order to develop new scholarly strategies for studying the inheritance of industrialization.
For event details, please visit Exposure and Effect
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