Politics of Toxicity: Scientists and Environments in Turkey


How to make the politics of toxicity visible so as to create radical socio-ecological changes? How to unpack the relation between toxic politics and toxicity as an environmental and human health problem? Though the relation between politics and toxicity appears to be clear in a way that human-centered, growth-based and unjust politics and policies remain to be the main cause of toxicity, this project draws attention to a much more complex relation that can be rendered visible through multi-sited ethnographic approach. In this project, I aim to re-present the relation between politics and toxicity on the basis of an “event” in Turkey: Bülent Şık, a food engineer in Turkey, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison on charge of "disclosing information about duty" in relation to the articles he published in a newspaper that reported on the findings of a research about environmental pollution, which was led by the Ministry of Health.  Şık was one of the researchers in this project, and he wrote about his findings that concern public health. The verdict of conviction has been taken to the court of appeal, and in the meantime, Şık continues writing; for example, recently, he prepared a report for Greenpeace that addresses the problem of pesticide in food. While Şık renders toxicity in lakes, in foods, in our environments visible through measurements, numbers, and words, how does an ethnographer contribute to such attempts to make toxicity visible for the public? What becomes site in the hands of an ethnographer different than a food engineer?


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Created date

February 23, 2020

Group Audience

Cite as

Duygu Kasdogan. 23 February 2020, "Politics of Toxicity: Scientists and Environments in Turkey", Center for Ethnography, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 16 March 2020, accessed 18 January 2022.