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Toxic soldiers: Chemicals and the Bodies of Gulf War Syndrome Sufferers

Kilshaw, Susan; (2014) Toxic soldiers: Chemicals and the Bodies of Gulf War Syndrome Sufferers. In: Fleming, JR and Johnson, Ann, (eds.) Toxic Airs: Body, Place, Planet in Historical Perspective. (pp. 77-94). University of Pittsburgh Press: Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Green open access

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Abstract

Sufferers of Gulf War syndrome worry about the risky and dangerous atmosphere to which they were exposed during the war and the lingering consequences of that exposure. The majority of veterans has a broad understanding of and anxiety about the role of chemicals in their illness, not only through chemical weapons, chemical warfare, and past hazards specific to their Gulf War experience but through enhanced sensitivity to ever-present (and ever-changing) toxins in their local environments. The exposures of the Gulf War in 1991 have left these soldiers vulnerable and thus they are left at risk of potentially hazardous chemicals they encounter in their daily lives. Their relationships with their bodies and their interactions with the environment around them are irrevocably altered by their experiences in the war. Veterans’ anxiety about chemicals reflects a wider cultural anxiety in the United Kingdom and United States surrounding chemicals and toxins and implicates wider social, political, and economic dimensions in understandings about their illness. In this chapter I explore the way cultural imaginings feed back into beliefs and experiences of illness. My main research interest lies with the way some concerns become the focus of public attention and others are ignored. As a medical anthropologist I focus on issues of health and illness and how concerns about the atmosphere are very much connected to widespread cultural health anxieties and anxieties about the impact of humans on the environment.

Type: Book chapter
Title: Toxic soldiers: Chemicals and the Bodies of Gulf War Syndrome Sufferers
ISBN-13: 9780822962908
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Publisher version: https://upittpress.org/books/9780822962908/#:~:tex...
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the version of record. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: Science, Environmental Science, Science, General Technology & Engineering, History
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10159302
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