Articulations of filtration: Rethinking disease etiology, inequality and care in uncertain ecosystems

Tracking environmental contamination and its costs presents significant challenges to mitigating health inequalities. Filtrating processes mediate the health of humans and natural environments, providing opportunities to map flows of contaminants, and rethink environment-health relations on different scales. Filtration does the work of sorting, discriminating, categorising, separating and blocking wanted from unwanted materials. When it functions effectively, it is central to maintaining multispecies and environmental health. When it fails, contaminants (bio)accumulate. Things that filter do not do so in isolation, but as part of integrated and mutually reinforcing ecological processes involving multiple mechanisms and actors.

Filtration processes thus reveal what Donna Haraway (2008) calls ‘contact zones’. This project will consider such contact zones as interdisciplinary worksites and will build collaboration to study the affordances of filtration both as a concept and material practice. The project is experimental and will bring together physical, life and social sciences with the humanities to explore the ‘articulations of filtration’: i.e. the material interlinkages between multi-species bodies within an ecology to rethink disease aetiology and intervention.


Ciara Kierans