The issue of “the particulate” as an abstraction and as matter plays a crucial role in the histories of development and industrialization in Asia. The particulate functions as an important grain of irritation in our efforts to identify analytically salient commonalities among distinct cases of pollution from radiation, chemical solvents, and insoluble copper. We bring to the fore an analysis of the particulate in this introduction to several articles focusing on East Asia by considering its role within the scope of the concept of genba (現場). We define genba as a lived site where knowledge of exposure to pollutants and their effects is not just produced but contested through negotiations of different forms of communication, including knowledge exchange, practices, and translation of spoken and written languages as well as instrumental languages among professionals of different disciplines whose work traverses the same fields. These various engagements with physical and abstracted particulate entities render emotions, values, beliefs, and reasoning in ways that further shape collective actions (or inactions) in dealing with the consequences of the initial creation of the genba.

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