Re-thinking Risk, Fieldwork Interrupted

In this exhibit we examine the generative potential of interruptions. These are inherent to fieldwork in Mexico, indeed to most work in Mexico—drug stock outs, budget cuts, the shutdown of state bureaucracy come year’s end. In this essay, I explore how Mexico’s devastating 7.1 magnitude earthquake on September 19, 2017 and its aftermath forced my clinic-based fieldwork focused on diabetes to stop, but also led me to new ways of seeing and understanding Mexico's epidemic of metabolic disease. I found deep parallels between living on an active fault line and living where diabetes also always feels imminent, if not inevitable.

The patients I had been following in my fieldwork were prediabetic—that is, at high risk of developing diabetes. With the earthquake, the ways that I myself was living at high risk were brought into high relief and risk became more personal. In this essay, I describe the risk of destruction in my home and why I stayed there. I describe how hidden insecurities, the result of social life, rather than shifting tectonic plates, came to seem inescapable. I highlight how some people in Mexico envision that technology might come to the rescue. While my clinic-based fieldwork was put on pause, this interruption shifted the scales of living with risk, deepening my understanding of urban environments of risk.


All rights reserved.


Created date

June 4, 2019

Cite as

Emily Vasquez. 4 June 2019, "Re-thinking Risk, Fieldwork Interrupted", STS Infrastructures, Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography, last modified 2 September 2019, accessed 5 October 2022.