The InterExposome Project is a blog and a resource for people interested in learning more, and collaborating more broadly, across the environmental health sciences. It takes seriously C. Wild's idea of the "exposome," and therefore the premise that exposure science can only be made stronger by the cross-disciplinary exchange of tools, skills, ideas and projects. This website facilitates that process.
We propose a novel conceptual approach to research on environmental exposures, the socio-exposome. This concept extends recent efforts, led mostly by environmental scientists and molecular epidemiologists, to measure environmental exposures as precisely as scientists now measure genes and gene expression. Advocates of this approach have nominally adopted a central concern of the social sciences – how to measure the environment and its effects – without a thorough engagement with social scientific theoretical and methodological expertise. This can result in a tendency to molecularize complex social phenomena and may limit the possibility of collective action to improve environmental conditions. Our concept of the socio-exposome highlights the importance of integrating sociological and environmental science approaches to assessing environmental exposures and social determinants of health. We argue that because environmental exposures are socio-political as well as biological phenomena, a new form of civic engagement and collective action is warranted to characterize and measure them; we call this ‘exposure citizenship.’ We propose a framework showing the levels of analysis embraced in the socio-exposome and suggest some sociomarkers and data sources that could capture these exposures.
On Dec 3, 1984, an unprecedented chemical exposure, resulting from an explosion at a Union Carbide Corp pesticide factory, poisoned the residents of the city of Bhopal, the capital of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Medical researchers saw the Bhopal gas leak as a tragic disaster, but also as an opportunity to study the consequences of a devastating mass chemical exposure. Yet the exposure and the many questions it still raises remain. In the author's visits to government gas relief hospitals, doctors dismissed the idea of any persistent injury stemming from gas exposure. Practitioners had rewritten the failures of research -- both the limits on what has been done and the failure to apply it to treatment -- as proof of the harmlessness of the gas. In general, doctors had not read the extant medical research on the consequences of the gas. Nonetheless, they tended to believe that it disproves any chronic and ongoing effects of gas exposure.
This dissertation is a study of science and medicine after the gas disaster in1984 in Bhopal, India. It looks at the discourses, debates, suspicions, and entangled events that have shaped the narratives of causality following the catastrophe, and the ways that ideas about relief, treatment, and illness have been constructed by experts, lay activists, and survivors. In it I address the issues of suspicion, research, and power by looking at the "cyanide controversy" in the early years after the disaster, and at the ways that the consequences of uncertainty affect patients and doctors within the hospital system designed to provide "gas relief" in the aftermath. I also describe the range of ways gas survivors have categorized and produced as subjects and citizens through an analysis of epidemiological, legal, and political discussions. I take on the history of medical research after the event, and show how a vast corpus of scientific work has remained dispersed and underutilized, leaving room for sometimes-dangerous narratives of certain illness or death. Finally, I look at the consequences of this indeterminacy for care and healing. I assess access to treatments, the diversity of medical care, the undermining of the status of the gas exposed, and the ways that detoxification has been approached through notions of dosage, potency, and traditional medicine. I produce a sociology of knowledge about the catastrophe and contribute to literatures on the problem of epistemic uncertainty and risk after disasters, the production of medicalized subjects, and the politicization of knowledge. I argue that interventions that have tried to encompass the disaster within a unitary framework have been persistently inadequate, and illustrate how attempts to reduce or subsume the consequences of the disaster – through recourse to scientific indeterminacy, under reductionist legal mechanisms, by imprecise categorization schema, within flawed research methodologies, and among hollow medical infrastructures – have not only failed to meaningfully represent it but also resulted in predictable forms of reductionist violence and social suffering, through obfuscation as often as through action.
Bridget Hanna and Arthur Kleinman. 2013. “Unpacking Global Health.” In Reimagining Global Health: An Introduction, edited by Paul Farmer, Arthur Kleinman, Jim Kim, and Matthew Basilico, 26: Pp. 115. Univ of California Press.
Arthur Kleinman and Bridget Hanna. 9/6/2011. “Religious Values and Global Health.” In Ecologies of Human Flourishing, edited by Paul Farmer, Donald K. Swearer, Susan Lloyd McGarry, and Lawrence Buell. Cambridge, MA: Center for the Study of World Religions.
Four hapless undergraduates and their unprepared chaperone set off in 2002 with a few thousand dollars, 120 mini dv tapes, and a mission: to discover "the Truth about Cuba." This short film is one version of their story.
The Bhopal Memory Project was an early academic archiving project with the aim of providing a forum for scientific data and teaching curricula about the course and causes of the Bhopal Gas Disaster, which occurred in India in 1984. This was a time of extreme polarization and politicization of the disaster, especially around the issue of liability and compensation. The Bhopal Memory Project became an important part of this conversation, attracting the attention of corporate PR departments, university professors, and activists alike. Today, the nature of the problem and the norms of web publishing have both changed and the Bhopal Memory Project is now defunct, though still live.