Carcinogenic residues of global biomedicine in Senegal

Link for joining the seminar on Teams   

Since the mid-twentieth century, Senegal has been speculated to have among the world’s highest rates of liver cancer. Over the intervening decades, Senegalese exposures were converted, via extracted tissues and crops, into knowledge and control of two main liver carcinogens: hepatitis B virus and a fungal metabolic by-product, aflatoxin. Thus defined as carcinogenic and preventable, these exposures have reoccurred alongside the expansion of biomedical knowledge, vaccine markets, immunization programmes and food regulation. In this paper, I consider how to historicize this persistence of risk and death without relying on colonial origin stories of pathogenic dispersal or disturbance. I propose instead that biomedical research and regulation have, by extracting from then abandoning as superfluous, maintained endemic carcinogenic environments as their residue. Asking how colonialism figures within this story of developmental promise and neoliberal betrayal, and setting aside the possibility of knowing colonial virality and toxicity, I locate this residue in the ongoing repetitions of longer histories of extractability and deferral.

Departmental Seminar Series Hilary 2021

Series theme: Decolonising anthropology and the anthropology of colonialism

3pm, Fridays (Weeks 1-8) on Teams (link above)

Convened by Morgan Clarke and Clare Harris