Toxic Disruptions : Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Urban India book cover
1st Edition

Toxic Disruptions
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome in Urban India

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after February 10, 2023
ISBN 9780367774462
February 10, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge India
150 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

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.

Table of Contents

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

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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.