University Of Tasmania
whole_BurgesWatsonDuikaL2005_thesis.pdf (12.82 MB)

Risking carrageenan : a critical geography of prudentialism in preventive health

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posted on 2023-05-26, 23:48 authored by Burges Watson, Duika L
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.


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

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