Panel 31

Global Pathogens, Local Pathologies: Toward a more than human understanding of biosecurity

Organizers: Michele Bandiera (1); Christian Colella (2); Chiara Vacirca (3); Lucilla Barchetta (4); Pietro Autorino (5); Giulia Arrighetti (6); Enrico Milazzo (1); Jasmine Pisapia (7)


Topics: Ecological transitions and climate justice; Health policies, governance and practices in a postpandemic era; Sociomaterialities of conflict and peace; Technoscientific promises, imaginaries and expectations; Food networks and governance in postpandemic times

Keywords: Biosecurity. Agriculture. Livestock farming. Plants. Animals. More than human health

In an agricultural context the term “biosecurity” refers to practices that control the spread of disease both onto and within the farm (Dargatz et al., 2002), but in the ‘world-ecology’ of the plantationocene (Haraway 2016) and capitalocene (Moore 2015) plants, animals and pathogens travel quickly around the globe, often undermining any institutional attempts to control vegetal, animal and microbial life (Lorimer 2020). Biosecurity science and policies operate to safeguard crops, plants, and domesticated animals - as 'productive forms of life' (Bandiera 2020) - from the 'infected life' constituted by pests, vector species or wild animals (Cassidy 2019). This panel will focus on the modern biosecurity paradigm and its possible alternatives such as the ecological and relational understanding of human and non-human coexistence, intercepting the current STS debate around ecological reparation (Centemeri, 2021; Ghelfi e Papadopoulos 2022). Drawing inspiration from critical biosecurity studies (Lorimer 2013) and the scholarship focused on the spatial (Hinchliffe 2013, 2015; Barker, 2015) and the temporal aspects (Pellizzoni 2019, 2021) of governing non-human life, we have identified three thematic interrogations:

  • Sanitation: How the socio-historical legacies of sanitation and immunity, which build on the epistemological division between spaces of health and sickness (Lynteris 2019), influence contemporary biosecurity/sanitation practices.
  • Surveillance: What role technologies play in the implementation of sanitary and phytosanitary monitoring measures, in the proliferation of borderlines, topographies of control, and conservation-driven surveillance (Sandbrook et al. 2018). What is the connection between technologies of surveillance of pathological bodies with the control over marginalized humans (Browne 2015)?
  • Standardization of practices: How and to what extent biosecurity regulations, homogenized zootechnical and agricultural modes of production, procedures, and spatial arrangements are historically linked with the global expansion of monocultural models (Uekotter 2011) and intensive livestock breeding (Shortall et al. 2016).

This panel will welcome both theoretical and empirically grounded contributions to current biosecurity practices and its alternatives such as non-anthropocentric approaches to the health of plants, animals and the environment, including but not limited to:

  • Accounts on methods to trace topologies of infected networks, intensities and circulations (Hinchliffe et al. 2013) and the invasibility of ecological networks (Waage & Mumford 2008).
  • The intra-active character of disease emergence (Reisman 2021) and technoscientific reframing of pathogenicity (Stengel et al. 2022).
  • 'One Health', and similar technoscientific reframing of health beyond the human (Hinchliffe 2017)
  • Emergent bottom up and/or institutional practices of ‘resilience’ such as agroecology, reforestation and rewilding.

The panel is also interested in contributions that analyze the epistemological and political effects of animal and plant diseases, especially regarding the relationship between scientific cultures, experts, institutions and organized publics (Colella et al. 2019), but also practices of care and ‘living with’ infected animal and vegetal bodies (Vacirca & Milazzo 2021) and emotional attachments with the latters (Gatti 2022).