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Risking carrageenan : a critical geography of prudentialism in preventive health


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Burges Watson, Duika L 2005 , 'Risking carrageenan : a critical geography of prudentialism in preventive health', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Since 1945, a seaweed derivative known as carrageenan has grown in
importance in relation to how industrial food and pharmaceutical industries
respond to demands for preventive technologies in public health. In
advanced liberal nations, carrageenan is particularly interesting as an actornetwork
through which are exhibited anxieties about processed food and
health, controversies over carcinogeneity, and the hopes embodied in
technologies to prevent obesity and HIV/ AIDS. These matters are of central
concern in the research reported here, whose main aims are to build on
insights from critical studies of public health and to contribute to scholarly
formulations of a new critical geography of public health. Attention is drawn
to evidence that preventive health is deployed such that individuals and
communities are expected to avoid conditions of ill-health by acting as
prudent and moral citizens. Prevention and prudentialism seem to expose
individuals and communities to novel health technologies, knowledge and
tactics of governmentality that, in turn, appear to shape social life and
subjectivities across various scales and locations. Risk minimisation and risk
aversion have become paramount in the spatial and temporal threads that
comprise the fabric of social life and identity formation and performance. In
this light, a third and related aim is to examine how and to what effect
various notions of risk are deployed in the constitution of preventive
technologies for public health. Particular, attention is paid to a qualitative
exploration of risk mitigation via carrageenan's use in fat-free and low-fat
foods, preventive treatments for HIV/AIDS, and responses to cancer. A
substantive part of this thesis concerns an analysis of risk minimisation and
risk aversion in the practice of public health, and that are implicit in
carrageenan-based technologies. Such technologies include microbicides and
some fast food products, whilst practices associated with them cover the use
of food labels and media coverage of all these concerns. Indebted to insights
from governmentality and actor-network theory, I speculate that prevention in public health discourses target individuals from a distance with the aim of
encouraging them to modify their behaviours by acting on their own
conduct. I also explore the spatial and temporal implications of this
governing at a distance, asking if preventing risk is spatial insofar as it affects
subjects of risk, and temporal in that the prevention of risk affects the
present. The findings reveal deeper moral and political orderings to risk that
are less emancipatory than they may appear, and that have demonstrable
effects on the carrageenan industry.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Burges Watson, Duika L
Keywords: Chondrus crispus, Health risk assessment, Medicine, Preventive, Public health
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2005 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

For consultation only. No copying permitted until June 2007. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 2005. Includes bibliographical references

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