Speakers and Panelists

Norah MacKendrickNorah MacKendrick's research falls within the fields of environmental sociology, consumer studies, medical sociology, and gender. She studies the growing public awareness of chemical ‘body burdens.’ She is currently finishing a book that identifies the rise of "precautionary consumption” in the United States. In this book, she tracks decades of regulatory failure to properly assess the health consequences of environmental chemicals. The work of addressing this failure has fallen to women, and mothers in particular, who feel responsible for protecting their children from exposure to environmental chemicals, and who do so through foodwork, shopping, and management of the household. Precautionary consumption has become entangled with potent discourses of maternal responsibility and consumer empowerment that circulate within the public outreach efforts of environmental health advocacy groups, as well as the marketplace for certified organic foods and ‘green’ products. In other work, she explores how people think of their bodies as contaminated, and how they evaluate their ability to avoid chemicals through precautionary consumption. She has two ongoing projects. The first examines how the environmental health movement has zeroed in on the maternal body as a site of moral and social anxiety surrounding chemical body burdens. The second explores how middle-class mothers react to cultural criticism of intensive or total motherhood.