In communities and in universities, environmental justice projects often must mobilize scientific understandings of what chemicals are and do in order to advocate against environmental violence. Yet, the technical information about what toxic chemicals are and do is so often created by the very corporate actors who are most culpable for creating pollution.

At the same time, environmental standards and databases are often collected by state agencies that do not prevent pollution, but instead oversee permission to pollute regulatory systems that allow corporate and other entities to continue polluting. More than this, for Indigenous communities facing disproportionate environmental violence, both corporations and the state are actors that together make pollution as a form of colonialism possible.

Michelle Murphy, a professor in the Department of History and Women and Gender Studies Institute at the University of Toronto, will present “Rethinking Chemicals Towards Environmental Justice and Land Protection” on February 19 at 1:30 p.m.

In that talk, she will ask how might one begin to rethink what toxic chemicals are and do so as to better support environmental justice and land protection. What core categories and concerns of environmental justice’s engagements with technoscience need to be rethought? Building from Indigenous feminisms and land defense around the Great Lakes, and with a focus on petrochemical pollution, her talk will consider how chemicals can be reimagined with and against technoscience towards decolonial futures.

The event is the 2021 Mullins Lecture, sponsored by the Virginia Tech Department of Science, Technology, and Society. Click here to attend; pre-registration is not required. This event will also be streamed live on the department’s Facebook page.

Michelle Murphy
Michelle Murphy

Michelle Murphy is a science, technology, and society scholar whose current research concerns environmental, reproductive, and data justice on the Great Lakes. Her work seeks to understand relationships between pollution, colonial and technoscience using feminist and decolonial approaches. She is the author of Sick Building Syndrome and the Politics of Uncertainty, Seizing the Means of Reproduction, and the Economization of Life, all published with Duke University Press.

In addition to being a professor of history and women and gender studies at the University of Toronto, she serves as the university’s Canada Research Chair in Science and Technology Studies and Environmental Data Justice, as well as director of the Technoscience Research Unit. She is part of an Indigenous-led environmental data justice lab that focuses on pollution in Ontario’s Chemical Valley. Murphy is Métis from Winnipeg Manitoba, from a mixed French Canadian and Métis family.