American Studies ETDs

Publication Date



This dissertation explores cultural narratives regarding the relationship between environmental toxins and breast cancer causation. It is not an analysis of current scientific research; grounded in Foucault’s theory of genealogy and archaeology, it evaluates cultural narratives on breast cancer causation that may be subsumed by the mainstream focus upon a cure for breast cancer, overlooking how people with breast cancer perceive illness causation, particularly as it relates to toxic exposure. Theories of place, space, and the neoliberal politics behind biotechnology support understanding the toxification of the human body as neocolonialism, and invite decolonizing methodologies as a means of understanding and opposing what is happening in the microgeographies of “inner space.” Current artistic representations of breast cancer causation and the toxic body are evaluated as a means for reframing discussions about breast cancer to bring discourses of breast cancer causation into what Rancière identifies as “the sensible,” or that arena of political discourse that is mainstream, topical and drives mass cultural awareness.




Breast cancer, environmental toxins, visual culture, narratives, representation

Document Type


Degree Name

American Studies

Level of Degree


Department Name

American Studies

First Advisor

Trujillo, Michael L.

First Committee Member (Chair)

Gandert, Miguel

Second Committee Member

Norwood, Vera

Third Committee Member

Lubin, Alex