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'Air's Substantiations' by Timothy Choy (UC Davis, Anthropology)

Culture, Power, and Social Change - UCLA Department of Anthropology

Thursday, October 28, 2010
12:30 PM - 2:30 PM
352 Haines Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095

This paper considers some of the acts and practices through which air has become a meaningful, knowable, and eventful substance in Hong Kong-as a medical fact, as a bodily engagement, as an international index, and as a medium of social difference. Tracking the activities of air as it moves across the edges distinguishing regions from one another, breathing bodies from their environs, and different domains of experience from one another, I ask how the materialities of air might inform how we think about what counts as solid argument, in environmental as well as other arenas. The paper works mimetically, gathering disparate accounts of the machines, doctors, and other actors and events that condense aspects and experiences of Hong Kong’s air to make concerns about air quality more epistemically weighty. In so doing, it suggests rethinking particularity and universality through a language more attuned to material movements between diffuseness and solidity, abstraction and concreteness.

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