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Ciara Kierans

Professor, Department of Public Health, Policy and Systems, University of Liverpool

During her AIAS-PIREAU fellowship, Ciara Kierans will be working on the project:

'Articulations of filtration: Rethinking disease etiology, inequality and care in uncertain ecosystems'

Project description

Tracking environmental contamination and its costs presents significant challenges to mitigating health inequalities. Filtrating processes mediate the health of humans and natural environments, providing opportunities to map flows of contaminants, and rethink environment-health relations on different scales. Filtration does the work of sorting, discriminating, categorising, separating and blocking wanted from unwanted materials. When it functions effectively, it is central to maintaining multispecies and environmental health. When it fails, contaminants (bio)accumulate. Things that filter do not do so in isolation, but as part of integrated and mutually reinforcing ecological processes involving multiple mechanisms and actors.

Filtration processes thus reveal what Donna Haraway (2008) calls ‘contact zones’. This project will consider such contact zones as interdisciplinary worksites and will build collaboration to study the affordances of filtration both as a concept and material practice. The project is experimental and will bring together physical, life and social sciences with the humanities to explore the ‘articulations of filtration’: i.e. the material interlinkages between multi-species bodies within an ecology to rethink disease aetiology and intervention.

Short Bio

I am Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Liverpool and Director for the Centre for Health, Arts, Society and the Environment (CHASE). My work is situated at the intersections of health, environment and labour with a commitment to interdisciplinary working. Specifically, I focus on the entangled socio-environmental conditions of unexplained kidney failure with ethnographic focus on the Lerma River-Lake Chapala basin in west-central Mexico, and from which I am developing related projects: on human and more-than-human filtration processes.

Project title: Articulations of filtration: Rethinking disease etiology, inequality and care in uncertain ecosystems

Area of research: Social Anthropology with a focus on health-environment relations

Fellowship period: 1 Sep 2023 - 30 jun 2024

Fellowship type: AIAS-PIREAU fellow



This fellowship has received funding from The Aarhus University Research Foundation (AUFF)