On February 14, 2018, 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. News of the massacre quickly began trending on social media. For the first time since the preceding October after a mass shooting in Las Vegas, the now sadly familiar discourse about gun violence in the United States raised its head to front-page prominence.
There are many people in Tanzania—though no one knows exactly how many—with skin that is significantly lighter than others’. Biomedically speaking, they are said to have albinism, a recessively inherited genetic condition that affects melanin production and results in low vision. In recent years, albinism has become the hegemonic conceptualization of light skin, in large part due to medical humanitarianism and deliberate efforts by the postcolonial state and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to make albino a salient category.
The most prevalent form of lead exposure in Mexico City today is culinary; lead glazed ceramic dishes that are prized within families. Lead glaze makes the dishes shine and the food taste sweeter, and the enormous ollas (pots) that hang on kitchen walls connect current generations to past and future family celebrations. What if anthropology could tell the broader story of what these pots do, and their effects, by intertwining their social and chemical lives? Our bioethnographic project, Mexican Exposures (MEXPOS), seeks to do just that; we insist that, to understand lead exposure and working-class life in Mexico City, we need to keep glaze, sweetness, celebrations, and toxicity together.