1st Edition

Toxic Disruptions Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Urban India

By Gauri S. Pathak Copyright 2023
    166 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    166 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge India

    This book provides a unique ethnographic account of women living with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in India. It examines how contaminated environments and political–economic changes render urban middle-class women in India vulnerable to PCOS, a condition which has the potential to disrupt conventional, normative feminine biographies of marriage and childbearing.

    The volume revolves around two main themes: how toxic landscapes, the endocrine disrupting chemicals suffusing them, and the political–economic environments related to them are linked to endocrine disorders such as PCOS; and how the biosocial disruptions caused by PCOS are both affecting women and reflective of changes in contemporary urban India. The author draws on anthropological fieldwork to investigate these connections through a fresh approach, combining a political ecological framework with perspectives from the anthropology of toxic exposures and health–environment systems.

    The first of its kind, this volume will be indispensable to students and researchers of anthropology, particularly medical anthropology, medical sociology, human geography, science and technology studies, medical humanities, health–environment systems, endocrine disorders, public health, and South Asian studies.


    1 Introduction: Contaminated Landscapes, Endocrine Disruption, and PCOS

    2 “A New Normal”: Health Since Economic Liberalization

    3 “Hormones Play Havoc with Your Body”: Toxic Locations and PCOS

    4 “Health Is No More a Priority”: PCOS and Clinical Encounters

    5 “When You Are 17 or 18, It Doesn’t Bother You”: Living with PCOS

    6 “Kids Will Be a Bonus”: PCOS and Intimate Modernities

    7 Conclusion: Toxic Disruptions




    Gauri Pathak is a medical anthropologist and associate professor at the Department of Global Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark. Her research focuses on the interactions between the body and its environment, consumption practices, and processes of globalization in South Asia, especially urban India. A former Homi Bhabha fellow, she is a founding member of the Plastic Lives social science consortium, and her current project, supported by a Carlsberg Young Researcher Fellowship, revolves around ethnographic investigations of human–plastic entanglements and the resulting toxic exposures. Besides her work on plastics and the lived experiences of polycystic ovary syndrome, she has also investigated beauty work and body projects in urban India.