Kajsa Dahlberg's Nature Scribbles and Flesh Read: Online talk with Danya Glabau

24 March 2022, 15:00

Food Allergies and the Hygienic Sublime
Danya Glabau is a medical anthropologist and STS scholar, and Industry Assistant Professor and Director of the Science and Technology Studies program at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Her research examines patient activism, the medical economy, and how human bodies become valuable data. Her forthcoming book, Food Allergy Advocacy: Parenting and the Politics of Care, examines how food allergy activists get involved in scientific research and political advocacy, and how race, class, and gender shape their advocacy goals. She earned her PhD from the Department of Science and Technology Studies (STS) at Cornell University.

Food allergy management offers an intriguing case study for understanding the agency of non-human things in our world. In this talk, we will examine the food allergy case and consider broader theoretical and methodological lessons for art and design research.

For food allergic people, the ordinary markers of a lived-in kitchen – crumbs on the counter, a thin sheen of oil on the stovetop, a sprinkling of flour dusted on the shelves – present immediate dangers to someone managing an allergy to peanuts, wheat, or shellfish. To manage such ever-present threats, food allergy households turn to intensive management of home hygiene and the recreation of media images of the home as a sparkling clean, luxurious setting for heteronormative domestic bliss. I call these figurations of the perfectly curated home the hygienic sublime. The hygienic sublime prompts a confrontation with the practical limits of purity in the face of the agency of microscopic agents, like food oils and proteins. At the same time, the hygienic sublime elevates whiteness, heteronormativity, wealth, and nuclear families as the means through which the body can be kept safe in the contaminated – and contaminating – spaces of modern American life.

Link to the meeting:
Meeting ID: 824 2748 7900

This talk is one of the events organised alongside Residency 21, Nature Scribbles and Flesh Reads with Kajsa Dahlberg at Praksis. The residency proposes a process of collective research into intertwined relationships between body and environment, seeking to understand ways in which contaminating toxins cut through lands and bodies. A collaboration between Praksis, The Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm; and Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation.