Dirty Laundry

Elizabeth Kryder-Reid (US)

Blue Bird Sessions on Thursday 29 October 10:30 EDT (14:30 GMT) @KryderReid

Note: this event will take place on Twitter

For more than a hundred year history years, businesses have used chemical solvents to clean textiles. This photo-essay, shared via 15 threaded Tweets, explores the intersections of laundry labor, racialized bodies, and the environmental harm that decades of use of perchloroethylene (Perc) and other solvents have created across urban and suburban landscapes. The photo-essay focuses particularly on the social and environmental history of dry cleaning in Indianapolis. It pairs images drawn from newspaper advertising, industry promotional materials, photographic archives, and contemporary site documentation with discourse from similarly diverse sources to reveal the complex relationships between clothing, its care, and the ideologies of race, class, and gender. It also locates that history in Indianapolis’ historical and contemporary landscape. The investigation speaks to the broader concern with toxic heritage as a central legacy of the Anthropocene and as an opportunity for activist scholarship that helps frame positive solutions for a more just future.