Producing Contaminated Citizens: Toward a Nature-Society Geography of Health and Well-Being

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40 Scopus citations


A nature-society geography approach to health and well-being demonstrates that socioecological parameters, in addition to economic and political factors, are critical to explaining outcomes of health crises. In expounding on this multifaceted understanding of health and well-being in the context of development, I draw on research on chronic arsenic poisoning and water contamination in rural Bangladesh. A public health crisis has arisen from naturally-occurring arsenic poisoning millions of people who drink, cook, and irrigate with arsenic-laced groundwater pumped up by tubewells, where the very sources that were promoted to bring health are now bringing illness, hardship, and death. In examining the interlinked ways that arsenic and water come to influence well-being and illness, I pay particular attention to social stigma and the production of contaminated citizens. By engaging the insights from nature-society geographies of health and feminist geographies of well-being in contributing to scholarship in geographies of health, the article highlights that the experiences of health and well-being are complex and evolving in instances where slow poisoning is simultaneously an outcome of development endeavors and environmental factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1165-1172
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of the Association of American Geographers
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • arsenic
  • health
  • nature-society
  • stigma
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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