Reckoning with the Toxic Past: the IT Revolution and Once-secret Corporate Records

Merlin Chowkwanyun (Columbia University)
October 21, 2019 - 12:00pm1:30pm

College Hall 209

Mass tort litigation has unleashed millions of pages of once-secret documents from the vaults of companies like Du Pont, BP, and Monsanto, among others. It allows researchers and community health activists to learn about the internal deliberations and workings of companies as they confronted toxic risks of their products. Yet the sheer volume of material -- millions of unsorted pages -- poses obvious challenges. This presentation will discuss the development of a new resource,, its holdings, and new tools being developed to work through them. It will end by talking briefly about implications for environmental health activism and policy.



Merlin Chowkwanyun is the Donald Gemson Assistant Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University. He has a book coming out next year, entitled All Health Politics is Local, about the impact of localism on community health work. He is currently working on another about political unrest at medical schools and neighborhood health activism during the 1960s and 1970s. He is the PI on a recent National Science Foundation Standard Research Grant for