[-empyre-] Residual Contamination

margaretha haughwout margaretha.anne.haughwout at gmail.com
Tue Nov 14 06:32:05 AEDT 2017

Hi all,

Thanks to Renate, Catherine and Marisa for provoking many thoughts and
questions on the theme of contamination... I am chiming in belatedly on the
Week 1 thread, and I hope you don't mind my contaminating week 2 ;) I
appreciate what was said about questioning the binary of purity/
contamination -- we need to question purity as much as contamination and
understand how they operate as a dialectic (indeed the extreme overuse of
antibiotics is the incessant drive for purity). As an herbalist trained in
the western tradition, we hold this view, like the Chinese herbalists, who
have the adage "pure water holds no fish). The microbial layers in our guts
and in our soils undo these rigid boundaries too (so great to hear work on

I also definitely agree on your thoughts about food and food control,
Catherine. Sedentary agriculture, while it may have it's place as one
strategy among many for human food, can't be the only anti-capitalist
strategy (as Moore points out, the Soviet Union managed nature list any
good capitalist); collapsing the binary (another one!) between what we
understand as food and what we understand as "the wild", or not food, may
be critical here. To me, this is wholly linked to the possibilities for
remediation. From a permaculture standpoint, waste and toxics is unused
nutrient. Sounds easy, and I know it's not, but it should be said.

On the note of binaries, I'm also wondering about how we talk about
contamination without falling into the traps of modernity -- ie. without
reifying purity in the process? The issue of contamination is never not an
issue environmental justice, where the poor and the black and brown are
often closest to superfund sites and toxics; and so what happens when folks
stop reifying purity and condemning contamination; can we form coalitions
and solidarity networks that deal with what is (that neither moves forward
or back...)?

A few thoughts as I head to Knowledge Culutres Ecologies in Chile (anyone
else going?).

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