Anthropology Today: Volume 37, Issue No 4

In the August Issue of the 37th volume of Anthropology Today you can find articles by Samwel Moses Ntapanta, Franziska Klaas and Konstantin Biehl.

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‘Lifescaping’ toxicants: Locating and living with e-waste in Tanzania

By Samwel Moses Ntapanta

Based on fieldwork in an informal scrap recycling workshop, this article explores how unregulated electronic waste (e-waste) handling activities in Dar es Salaam expose workers to toxic substances as part of their livelihoods. These informal economic activities are situated in the urban landscape within the surrounding global flows of e-waste and recycling and demonstrate how workers reflect on and seek to mitigate the toxic exposures they encounter as part of daily life.

The concept ‘lifescaping’ is used to show how, while informal workers may be aware of toxic exposures and make the best of tricky situations in various ways, they have limited access to information about the dangers and must develop their own strategies by performing various micro-actions through which they hope to protect themselves.

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Maize as a nightmare: Food safety and toxicity in rural Kenya

By Konstantin Biehl

This article discusses how Kenyan farmers engage with potentially toxigenic mould growing on the maize they produce, buy, process, consume and feed their animals. Aflatoxins, a group of mycotoxins produced by strains of Aspergillus flavus, can severely harm the livers of humans and animals, causing cancer, liver failure and death.

Detection of the invisible, tasteless, and odourless toxins is only possible through expensive scientific testing, largely absent in rural Kenya. Yet local conceptions of aflatoxin focus on the visible mould in everyday food production and consumption practices. This includes constant inspection and separating mouldy kernels and grains during drying and storing to prevent the potentially present mould from spreading and to ensure food safety.

This article investigates how practices like separating grains from maize kernels and inspecting the dried maize before grinding show how food is handled under constant, yet flawed, engagement with potential toxicity.

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Incinerating hazardous waste for the public good

By Franziska Klaas and Nelson Nyabise

Incineration outside of the health sector has started to become a growing business in Tanzania recently. The following article reflects on how internationally and locally formulated concerns about pollution from incineration unfold in the context of Dar es Salaam. More precisely, it looks at civil servants authorized to monitor incineration activities. How do they translate their mandate into practice? What are the public goods at stake in the monitoring of incineration? The article concludes with reflections on incineration as a highly ambivalent waste management technology for those responsible for monitoring it.

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Published Aug. 9, 2021 12:27 AM - Last modified Aug. 9, 2021 12:27 AM