Commonplaces: Itemizing the Technological Present, Somatosphere, May 2014.

“In the Spray , ” (c) M Hooper, Flickr

“In the Spray,” (c) M Hooper, Flickr

In Martinique, contemporary anxieties about bodies, chemicals, and the environment have coalesced recently around two key issues related to spray: first, relative to concerns about the legacies of the 1972-1993 manual application of an insecticide called chlordécone (kepone) to combat charonçons du bananier (banana borer weevils) on the island’s northern banana plantations,and second, about the more recent aerial application of a variety of fungicides to combat cercosporiose noire (black sigatoka fungus) on those same parcels of land. Épandage aérien (crop-dusting), the spray from “up there,” has re-energized local conversations about environmental contamination, particularly exposures to industrially-produced chemical particles circulating in the air. In this short essay, I consider our bodies’ material entanglements with chemical commodity chains, arguing that at every scale in our social and biological worlds, contingent forms of non-life and life are being entwined, as synthetic chemicals embed, accrete, and leave their residue in our bodies.