Colloquium: Vanessa Agard-Jones, "Of Plantations and Pesticides..."
MAR 28, 2014 | 4:15 PM TO 6:00 PM
The Graduate Center
365 Fifth Avenue
March 28, 2014: 4:15 PM-6:00 PM
Department of Anthropology, New York University
Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Yale University
"Of Plantations and Pesticides: Sexual Politics in Martinique"
In Martinique, a French territory in the Caribbean, narratives about the origins of gender transgression and same-sex desire have shifted recently to include a story about their relationship to pesticide contamination on the island’s banana plantations. As a source of rising levels of estrogen in the environment, the pesticide chlordécone has been linked to both male infertility and prostate cancer. Concerns about the effects of this contamination have been heightened by uncertainty about the range of its impacts, and popular responses have included panic about male effeminacy and intersex births as well as critiques of the postcolonial dynamics that drive uneven exposure. Drawing from 18 months of fieldwork on the island, this talk explores how the paradigmatic narrative about the origins of gendered forms of sociality in the Black Atlantic—violent relations under slavery— are being transformed through the transnational travels of an hormone-altering pesticide.