Dr Jessica Van Horssen
Dr. Jessica van Horssen's scholarship focusses on the history of environmental health in North America and the wider world. Her work highlights the connections between modernity and toxicity in bodies of land, human bodies, and the body politic.
She has researched and published extensively on the North American asbestos industry within a local/global context. This work has brought her into the study of the culture of toxicity, and the different ways humans have attempted to make the world safer by introducing new materials to the environment.
Van Horssen sailed around the UK in 2017 as part of the eXXpedition Round Britain to test coastal waters for plastics contamination, and organised a time travel experience at Edinburgh Fringe to encourage the public to historicise current pollution levels. She has continued her research into persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and their introduction/impact on domestic spaces and bodies
Select modules include:
- Migration and Cultural Encounters
- Atlantic Revolutions
- Digital History
- Civil Rights in North America
The way van Horssen looks at history is through a transnational lens, and in her research, she has shown that environmental contamination often transgresses artificial political boundaries. As an active historian, she is also committed to researching the past to make an impact on the present and future.
To this end, van Horssen has started a new research project that focusses on societal aspirations for the future, specifically within the postwar period. By examining the ways postwar society altered their environments to unknowingly embed persistent organic pollutants (POPs), her research directly addresses contemporary consumer practices and government legislation.
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