Assembling transnational toxic bodies: Embodying and mobilizing responsibility in the "Arica Victims KB v. Boliden Minerals AB" case

Research project
Inactive research
Project size
505 000
Project period
2017 - 2018
Project owner
Department of Sociology and Work Science

Short description

The project aims to explore how “toxic bodies” were assembled in Arica and other locations and then transnationally mobilized to the County Court of Skellefteå, Sweden. The exploration of this topic will comprise three interrelated components:
First, we explore the practices and devices through which the toxic environment in and around Polygono was embodied into certain “toxic bodies”. We will reconstruct in detail the emergence of the controversy regarding the toxic effects of the waste located on Polygono, from the initial uncertainty to the decision to sue Boliden. A special focus is on the interconnections between the resident’s social mobilization and the production of technoscientific devices supporting their claims.

Second, we aim to reconstruct the travel and arrival of such “toxic bodies” to Sweden, especially on the current trial. In exploring how concepts and technologies travel from different places/times, we recognize that the transnational mobilization of claims about toxic damage always faces resistances. Given this, the objective is to describe ethnographically the multiple transformations and barriers faced on the process, with a focus (1) on how such toxic bodies were set-up while preparing its movement to Sweden, (2) on the challenges faced during its movement and (3) on their arrival as (more or less contested) evidence on the trial at the County Court of Skellefteå.

A third, and more speculative, component of this project is to explore alternatives to the way in which transnational corporations can be held responsible for the “toxic bodies” they create in foreign locations. We draw on a notion of “care” as much more than the establishment of legal and financial responsibility. Care comprises a wide range of ways to relate in which a concern for the wellbeing of some other (human, animal, material, conceptual, etc.) occupies a central position.