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Funeral workers’ experience with ‘contagious corpses’
Silvia Romio

The extremely high death rates in northern Italy during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic called for exceptional rules and suspension of funeral practices and burial rites. Additionally, forms of collective burial, typical of a wartime scenario, and mechanical methods and timing were reintroduced into the handling of corpses. Although several academic studies have highlighted how the absence of funeral ceremonies and ‘dignified burials’ has caused prolonged and deep suffering for the mourners and for many of the caregivers and health workers, few have so far focused on funeral workers. This article focuses on the intimate, emotional and ethical experiences of a group of funeral workers in northern Italy who handled COVID corpses and had to take the place of the mourners at the time of burial. Through an anthropological analysis of their oral memories, this work attempts to analyse their expressions of discomfort, frustration, fear and suffering.

Human Remains and Violence: An Interdisciplinary Journal
Andrew Crompton

In living memory, Manchester was black from air pollution caused by burning coal. Today only fragments of that blackness remain, although its former presence can be inferred from precautions taken at the time to protect buildings from soot. At Canal Street in Miles Platting the colouring caused by consuming coal was blue, the result of contamination with a by-product of the purification of coal-gas. It is argued that because the blue street can be seen as beautiful then so can the black walls, which should be treated as an authentic part of the city. The most significant remains are 22 Lever Street and the inner courtyards of the Town Hall, which ought to be preserved in their dirty state.

Bulletin of the John Rylands Library
Positioning, Politics and Pertinence
Natalie Roberts

. After an initial cluster of positive cases in the first month, most people brought to the centre tested negative for Ebola. Some were mildly unwell or not sick at all, others suffered from critical illnesses that the facility was not equipped to manage. Supportive care interventions in West Africa had been rudimentary due to the fear of occupational contamination of staff, and due to disagreements within MSF about the benefits of administering

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Open Access (free)
Environmental justice and citizen science in a post-truth age
Editors: and

This book examines the relationship between environmental justice and citizen science, focusing on enduring issues and new challenges in a post-truth age. Debates over science, facts, and values have always been pivotal within environmental justice struggles. For decades, environmental justice activists have campaigned against the misuses of science, while at the same time engaging in community-led citizen science. However, post-truth politics has threatened science itself. This book makes the case for the importance of science, knowledge, and data that are produced by and for ordinary people living with environmental risks and hazards. The international, interdisciplinary contributions range from grassroots environmental justice struggles in American hog country and contaminated indigenous communities, to local environmental controversies in Spain and China, to questions about “knowledge justice,” citizenship, participation, and data in citizen science surrounding toxicity. The book features inspiring studies of community-based participatory environmental health and justice research; different ways of sensing, witnessing, and interpreting environmental injustice; political strategies for seeking environmental justice; and ways of expanding the concepts and forms of engagement of citizen science around the world. While the book will be of critical interest to specialists in social and environmental sciences, it will also be accessible to graduate and postgraduate audiences. More broadly, the book will appeal to members of the public interested in social justice issues, as well as community members who are thinking about participating in citizen science and activism. Toxic Truths includes distinguished contributing authors in the field of environmental justice, alongside cutting-edge research from emerging scholars and community activists.

From the development of a national surveillance system to the birth of an international network
Roberto Pasetto
Ivano Iavarone

human activities which have produced or might produce environmental contamination of soil, surface or groundwater, air, food-­chain, resulting or being able to result in human health impacts” (Martuzzi et al. 2014). Industrial a­ ctivities – e­ specially those related to large petrochemical plants, power generation, heavy industry such as steel mills, and ­mining – ­lead to environmental pressure, with potential adverse social and health effects on local communities through both occupational and residential influences (World Health Organization 2009). In recent years

in Toxic truths
Open Access (free)
A tool of environmental justice in Ecuadorian toxic tours
Amelia Fiske

auger in the realms of social or environmental activism has been overlooked. Of particular interest is the way in which the auger enrolls participants as witnesses in the “discovery” of contamination through a range of visceral engagements on the toxic tour: the nostril-­curling smell of the samples, the squish of oily muds between the fingers, or the telltale, incandescent sheen of hydrocarbons. In the process, the buried legacies of old industrial practices (such as the dumping of crude oil and industrial waste in unlined pits in the jungle) are brought to the

in Toxic truths
Open Access (free)
Pollution, contamination and the neglected dead in post-war Saigon
Christophe Robert

4 Dead zone: pollution, contamination and the neglected dead in post-war Saigon Christophe Robert Thresholds and water margins: Binh Hung Hoa cemeteries The entrance gates of the Binh Hung Hoa cemeteries are falling apart. The faded, mouldy yellow paint peels off. Some of the gates date back from the time of the American War. One of them displays a date, 1964, the year President Johnson decided to escalate the war in Vietnam. These are the largest cemeteries in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City, located in one of the poorest areas in the city. The cemeteries are full and

in Governing the dead
Open Access (free)
Science, activism, and policy concerning chemicals in our bodies
Phil Brown
Vanessa De La Rosa
, and
Alissa Cordner

the response by science, government, and social movements. We begin with a select history of how embodied contamination became an important issue, and then discuss how academics and progressive lay–­professional alliances have altered traditional perspectives on science in order to place environmental health science in the service of those affected by contamination. As a case study for how these concerns are played out within a major contamination problem, we focus on per- and polyfluorinated compounds (PFAS), perhaps the most visible class of chemicals now coming

in Toxic truths
Ed Randall

likely to have been contaminated by dioxin and related chemicals known as PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). With just days to go before European and national elections the Belgian government, led by Prime Minister Jean-Luc Dehane, found itself under the most intense and critical scrutiny. It was confronted by an extremely anxious Belgian public made more anxious still by a rapidly mounting volume of allegations about official incompetence and government delays in acknowledging a major contamination episode affecting Belgian agriculture; intense press speculation about

in Food, risk and politics
Kathleen G. Cushing

would come to be regarded as serious moral offences with untold consequences. It is evident that this tactic underlay much of the reformers’ propaganda. By increasingly emphasizing the potential for contagion, and by reiterating the paramount need to cleanse the sacred from contamination by the secular, the reformers used the language of purity and pollution, in particular the rhetoric of sexual separation, both to delineate and more sharply enforce what they deemed to be the appropriate spheres of activity both for themselves and for lay society. 1 Reliance on this

in Reform and papacy in the eleventh century