Special Section of Catalyst

Cover image of the Catalyst Special Issue

Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience Vol 6 No 1 (2020)

Special Section on Chemical Entanglements: Gender and Exposure edited by Rachel Lee

Published May 17, 2020



A Lattice of Chemicalized Kinship: Toxicant Reckoning in a Depressive-Reparative Mode
by Rachel Lee

EDC’s as Industrial Chemicals and Settler Colonial Structures: Towards a Decolonial Feminist Approach
by Reena Shadaan and Michelle Murphy

Naked in the Face of Contamination: Thinking Models and Metaphors of Toxicity Together
by Amelia Fiske

‘Keeping Them Down:’ Neurotoxic Pesticides, Race, and Disabling Biopolitics
by Mayra G. Sánchez Barba

Potency and Power: Estrogen, Cosmetics, and Labeling in Canadian Regulatory Practices, 1939-1953
by Lara Tessaro

Troubling Figures: Endocrine Disruptors, Intersex Frogs, and the Logics of Environmental Science
by Logan Natalie O’Laughlin

Toxic Soldiers, Flickering Knowledges, and Enlisted Care: Dispossession and Environmental Injustice
by Alli Morgan, Kim Fortun

Compost and Menstrual Blood: Women Wastepickers and the Work of Waste Futurity
by Rachel Vaughn

Purity is Not the Point: Chemical Toxicity, Childbearing, and Consumer Politics as Care
by Andrea Lilly Ford


Catalyst and the UCLA Center for the Study of Women (CSW) invited contributions from scholars, artists, activists, and community members for a special issue which features cross-disciplinary dialogue on chemical exposure and gender.

This publication is an outgrowth of CSW’s larger Chemical Entanglements research initiative. In the context of increased reports of environmental illnesses like Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, and rising rates of hypospadias, ADHD, autism, cancer, endocrine disruption, and other conditions linked to environmental exposure, CSW’s Chemical Entanglements initiative aims to create space for cross-disciplinary feminist research on how the impacts of everyday chemical exposures are complex, compounded, and gendered.

We hope that using gender as a lens for examining the issue of exposure will elicit collaboration across fields and will engage diverse stakeholders, including researchers, community activists and educators, and “canary” storytellers: i.e. visual artists, ethnographers, and poets variously self-identified or in solidarity with a growing subset of the US population–those environmentally ill and transgenerationally affected by un(der)regulated toxic hazards. Moreover, this project aims to reveal the complexity of activism on this issue by examining tensions between precautionary consumerism and government regulation that must be addressed in order to work towards intersectional community well-being.

Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Responses to the 2017 Chemical Entanglements symposium (from speakers, attendees, and participants)
  • Toxicity as tool and product of colonialism and capitalism
  • Exposure as state-sponsored violence
  • Chemicals as racial capital of the state
  • Indigenous knowledge and approaches to exposure
  • Environmental justice, reparative justice, and intersectional movements to redress the harm of exposure
  • Transgenerational effects of chemical exposure, particularly on communities of color
  • Feminist approaches to toxicology
  • The role of regulation and the safety of everyday products and living/working spaces
  • Feminist interventions in government regulation of chemicals
  • Intersectional approaches to occupational health
  • Gendered responsibilities and body burdens
  • Approaches to assessing complex exposures from everyday products
  • Critical histories of the advertising and marketing of chemical products
  • The role of chemical exposure and endocrine disruption in constructing gendered/sexed selves
  • Building trans and intersex allyship by reframing scientific inquiry
  • Cross-disciplinary communication strategies for change
  • Endocrine disruption, health, and unseating the old toxicological wisdom that “the dose makes the poison”