Lindsey Dillon (she/her) is Assistant Professor of Sociology at UC Santa Cruz, with affiliations in Community Studies, Environmental Studies, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, and the Science and Justice Research Center. Her current book project examines urban development, racial geographies, and struggles over housing, health, environment, and place in southeast San Francisco. This work also explores toxic entanglements of race and waste, and the toxic afterlives of war. An emerging project looks at new, collective practices of ecological grief and mourning. She has a PhD in Geography, enjoyed a postdoc in an American Studies department, and likes being in interdisciplinary spaces.
Lindsey Dillon - Keynote Speaker
Aleksandra “Sasha” Karapetrova (she/her) is a PhD student in the Gan lab in the Environmental Toxicology program at the University of California, Riverside. The goal of Sasha’s research is to inform and reduce environmental toxicities. Projects have included building an electrochemical fuel cell, measuring toxicity of permalloy disks, assembling a nanoscale photocatalyst, site-directed mutagenesis of Toluene ortho-xylene monooxygenase, climate change effects on alpine streams, and acid mine drainage effects on microbial communities. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology at Pomona College, Sasha narrowed her research focus to anthropogenic impacts on the environment at a molecular level in aquatic and atmospheric environments. Sasha is also a member of the Free Radicals collective, an activist collective dedicated to creating a more socially just, equitable, and accountable science. Currently, Sasha is on temporary medical leave and lives in June Lake, California and enjoys spending time with Bud the Dog and friends.
Presentation Title: A Product of the Environment: Toxicities in Vehicles of Chemical Transport and Performance of
How do chemicals classified as “toxic” to the human and environmental bodies travel and how do they change during their lifespan? How is research on environmental toxins performed? Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) travel via water, air, and soil and they degrade into secondary, tertiary or other forms during their travel and continue to react with their molecular environment long after initial application. Once they enter the body, they accumulate in adipose tissue and vulnerable organs -- a process that highlights inequities along lines of class, race, and gender. POPs are traceable and at the macro-scale their travel is regulated by policy, capitalist markets, and avoiding their non-consensual travel is a privilege. The notion of a “toxic-free” life symbolizes an imaginary level of purity, and this very notion emits violent toxicity. Current scientific methodology produces knowledge on the structure, bioavailability, and environmental persistence of POPs, but is limited by its elitist and exclusionary structure. More specifically, its failure to acknowledge the benefits of doing field research on occupied ancestral and present lands of Native Americans, its inability to address inequitable impacts on vulnerable communities, and barriers to accessing publications.
Aleksandra (Sasha) Karapetrova
Mayra (she/her) is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the UC Davis School of Medicine. She completed her PhD in Geography with a DE in Feminist Theory and Research also from UC Davis. Her dissertation research looked at how overburdened communities come to know and articulate harm and toxicity in relation to the disproportionate exposure to agricultural pesticides as a way towards more liveable alternatives. Mayra’s research engages with theories on affect, ethics, and the politics of knowledge to trace how we come to care for vulnerable beings and ecologies. Her work engages with feminist theory, environmental justice, and geography.
Abstract: In our increasingly toxic times, scholars call for the need to become troubled by the out-of-sight slow violence produced by the pervasiveness of industrial toxicants. This paper illustrates how local residents in California’s heavily polluted agricultural regions collectively craft more intimate ways of knowing and making more tangible the elusive, yet debilitating, distribution of toxic pesticides. It interweaves feminist theory, science and technology studies, and geographies of touch, to explore the potential (and tensions) of a haptic epistemology as it moves along different pedagogical encounters where participants learn to see and feel the presence of pesticides in their everyday. I present how touch can intensify certain sensibilities which may result hurtful, but also provide openings for relief and hope. I argue that by engaging with neglected senses and marginalized embodied experiences, touch may offer a more careful politics of knowledge based on more tactful ways to attend, approach, and make sense of what it is like living among the slow violence of toxic ecologies.
Melina Packer (she/hers) is currently a PhD candidate in Society & Environment at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation offers a critical race and queer feminist history of U.S. toxicology science, with a particular focus on endocrine-disrupting chemicals and "economic poisons"—an early toxicological term for pesticides. Next academic year she will move her research to the University of California, Riverside, where she is joining the Gender and Sexuality Studies department as a Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow, under Dr. Jade Sasser's mentorship. At UC Riverside, Melina seeks to strengthen her decolonial critique, centering imperialism as a driving force and rationale behind today's (and tomorrow's) inequitable, state-sanctioned toxic exposures. Along with her transdisciplinary comrades in the Queer Ecologies | Feminist Biologies group hosted at the UCB Social Science Matrix, Melina is also actively co-creating new curricula that generatively interweave critical theory and biological sciences, such that Euro-American scientists are taught differently and (scientific) knowledge is produced more equitably.
Abstract: Scientist feminists and feminist scientists have done much to make Euro-American science more attentive to social inequities. Yet the uncontainable and unstoppable movements of over 80,000 synthetic toxins complicate an already-fraught relationship between dominant science and critical practitioners, all within an ever-inter(re)active bio-chemical context. "Advocacy scientists" apply their advanced training and yet still-limited knowledge of toxins to strengthen chemical regulations for public health. Environmental justice organizers turn to "citizen science" to quantify and evidence their lived experiences of toxic exposure in terms and measures that policymakers will presumably understand and act upon. Meanwhile, critical race, queer feminist, and disability scholar-activists caution that conventional ways of measuring toxins and toxicity tend to normalize particular bodies/minds and stigmatize "others." What recourse do exposed communities have then, in this historical moment wherein chemical exposure is certain to occur, especially in certain places to certain people, while its effects remain rather uncertain, scientifically, materially, and rhetorically? If the dominant science of toxins has done little to stem the toxic tide, and in fact may be complicit in toxic trespass overall, then how might disproportionately more burdened peoples and ecologies intervene, strategize, survive, and thrive through the fallout?
Juan Carrillo (he/him) is a junior at the University of California, Berkeley where he is studying Mechanical Engineering. His interest in mechanical engineering was first cultivated at an early age by watching his father work on classic cars. His affinity for vehicles, coupled with his math and science ability, made mechanical engineering a natural career to pursue. Juan has interned several summers at a Naval Base where he got experience working on pressure tolerant underwater electronics and designing a test frame for naval mooring bollards. This summer he will be interning with the Boeing Company as a Liaison Engineer. In the future, Juan hopes to be able to design and engineer the next generation of vehicles to better serve the needs of the planet and of the people. Juan also sees the importance of helping underrepresented communities. As a first generation college student, Juan aspires to be able to help the upcoming generations of people of color overcome the barriers that have been placed in their journey.
Juan Carrillo Melendez
Ashley Dominguez (she/her) is a junior at the University of California, Berkeley where she is majoring in Political Science with an emphasis on International Relations and minoring in Gender and Women’s Studies. She grew up in Richmond, California where she had first-hand experiences with inequalities affecting low-income, immigrant communities. Inspired by her personal experiences, Ashley has devoted her time to working on local campaigns such as Students for Education Reform and Buffy Wicks for Assembly to ensure the security and success of her own communities. Ashley is currently an undergraduate student assistant for the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies and aspires to become a lawyer focusing on international law. When she is not busy working or studying, she enjoys taking dance classes and spending time with her family in Richmond.
Abstract (with Athena Sabaria):
Richmond, California is home to over 100,000 residents as well as Chevron’s second largest refinery in the country. In 2016 alone, nearly 1,229 pounds of hazardous air pollutants were reported to be from the Chevron refinery, increasing the risk of city-wide spills, fires, and explosions. The Richmond Chevron refinery is only 20 minutes away from the UC Berkeley campus and in proximity to over a 20% African American and 40% Latinx population which make these residents extremely vulnerable to contamination. Not only do the pollutants pose health risks to humans, such as the development of asthma and cancer, but they make the locations undesirable places to live, thus reducing the amount of money that goes towards maintaining their infrastructure. This creates a negative feedback loop that leaves these communities further impoverished. We want to consider Chevron as an entity with its own source of agency and analyze the toxins that it produces inside and outside of the body that is in contact with the refinery. In this presentation, we will answer the following questions: In the context of the Richmond Chevron Oil Refinery, how does toxicity manifest in the health of the social body and environment through pollutants? Furthermore, what ontological practices in environmental justice must be utilized or challenged in order to break this cycle of structural violence?
Kannagi Yashroy (she/her) is a senior at the University of California, Berkeley, where she is majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology with an emphasis in Medical Biology and Physiology, in addition to pursuing a minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. Her fascination for the Biological Sciences developed throughout her early life and schooling in India. At Berkeley, she further cultivated this interest and turned it into an academic pursuit by working in an Evolutionary Genetics Integrative Biology Laboratory. Her interest in Gender and Women’s Studies was inculcated in her, at an early age by her mother, to the extent that dinner table conversations were centered around critiques of conventional gender norms and expectations. She aspires to build a career that traverses the fields of healthcare and medical research, while acknowledging the intersectionality of modern healthcare. When she is not busy working in lab, she enjoys creating art and spending time with both her pets and local stray animals.
Athena Sabaria (they/them/theirs) is pursuing simultaneous degrees in Conservation & Resource Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies at UC Berkeley. Taking GWS 111 (Performing Ecologies: Race & Gender in the Human/Nonhuman World) sparked their interest in the environmental entanglements between wildlife and social behavioral research. Athena has worked in two animal behavior labs, an agriculture & pest management lab, and is currently employed at an extractions lab that tests sites for potential toxic pollutants. They are committed to transformative justice as a Consent Workshop Facilitator in the Berkeley Student Cooperative, as well as advocating with NAMI for better mental health resources within the university. In the future, Athena hopes to conduct holistic field work using both biological and ethnographic research to shed light on environmental (in)justice. When they need time for self-care, Athena can be found journaling, making art, hiking, or attending QTPOC community events.
Abstract (with Ashley Dominguez): Richmond, California is home to over 100,000 residents as well as Chevron’s second largest refinery in the country. In 2016 alone, nearly 1,229 pounds of hazardous air pollutants were reported to be from the Chevron refinery, increasing the risk of city-wide spills, fires, and explosions. The Richmond Chevron refinery is only 20 minutes away from the UC Berkeley campus and in proximity to over a 20% African American and 40% Latinx population which make these residents extremely vulnerable to contamination. Not only do the pollutants pose health risks to humans, such as the development of asthma and cancer, but they make the locations undesirable places to live, thus reducing the amount of money that goes towards maintaining their infrastructure. This creates a negative feedback loop that leaves these communities further impoverished. We want to consider Chevron as an entity with its own source of agency and analyze the toxins that it produces inside and outside of the body that is in contact with the refinery. In this presentation, we will answer the following questions: In the context of the Richmond Chevron Oil Refinery, how does toxicity manifest in the health of the social body and environment through pollutants? Furthermore, what ontological practices in environmental justice must be utilized or challenged in order to break this cycle of structural violence?
Connie Zheng (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and experimental filmmaker who was born in China and is currently based out of Oakland, California. Her work is interested in developing new language around ecological apocalypse, diasporic place-making, and the political potentials enabled by fantasy as a means of community-building amidst climate change. She has presented scholarly work at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and exhibited her visual work around the U.S., including the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, the Minnesota Street Project (San Francisco), and AIR Gallery (New York). She is currently a Graduate Fellow at the Headlands Center for the Arts and has also been awarded residencies and fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center (Wolf Kahn and Emily Mason Painting fellowship) and ACRE. Her writing is forthcoming in a Routledge volume and has appeared in SFMOMA's Open Space, Art Practical and the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies. She received an MFA in Art Practice from UC Berkeley and BAs in Economics and English (Creative Nonfiction) from Brown University.
Theater, Dance and Performance Studies Department
Center for the Study of Sexual Culture
Townsend Center for the Humanities
Berkeley Center for Social Medicine
Department of Gender and Women's Studies