Social Studies of Science
Department of Geography, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL, Canada
Instituto de Sociología and CIGIDEN, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
Toxicity has become a ubiquitous, if uneven, condition. Toxicity can allow us to focus on how forms of life and their constituent relations, from the scale of cells to that of ways of life, are enabled, constrained and extinguished within broader power systems. Toxicity both disrupts existing orders and ways of life at some scales, while simultaneously enabling and maintaining ways of life at other scales. The articles in this special issue on toxic politics examine power relations and actions that have the potential for an otherwise. Yet, rather than focus on a politics that depends on the capture of social power via publics, charismatic images, shared epistemologies and controversy, we look to forms of slow, intimate activism based in ethics rather than achievement. One of the goals of this introduction and its special issue is to move concepts of toxicity away from fetishized and evidentiary regimes premised on wayward molecules behaving badly, so that toxicity can be understood in terms of reproductions of power and justice. The second goal is to move politics in a diversity of directions that can texture and expand concepts of agency and action in a permanently polluted world.