"Towards a Brave New World: Understanding New Configurations of Virus, Vector, and Human Relations in Colombia

Sims, Rosie

Vinh-Kim Nguyen

Abstract: "Global health interventions are increasingly characterised by the use of technology. In the context of emerging arboviruses such as the current Zika outbreak, the global strategic response places an emphasis on controlling the vector ' in this case the mosquito ' that carries and transmits the virus. Technological interventions are being developed to regulate and mediate the way humans live with these insects, produced by particular epistemologies and ontologies of being in the world. This research intends to explore vector control in global health interventions in order to understand how these new ways of intervening depart from existing rationales of intervention, what kind of knowledge about human and non-human relations is being produced and how this complicates binaries such as nature/society, and what such productions are in turn revealing in terms of ontology. Through a focus on a group of scientists piloting a technology creating Wolbachia bacteria-infected mosquitoes that cannot transmit viruses such as dengue or Zika, in Medellín, Colombia, this project will follow the various actors involved in such a process that makes the natural 'safe' or 'acceptable' to live with. I hypothesise that such a technology departs from a rationale of eradication, and represents something radically different: the idea of 'living with' such insects. This is a very different way of conceptualising health and risk, and could represent a paradigm shift with important consequences for the field of global health, raising questions with ecological and ethical implications. This research will therefore address the following questions: How do new ways of intervening upon vector borne diseases depart from existing rationales of health interventions? How are these interventions changing human and nonhuman relations? And finally, what epistemic and ontological dynamics are at play in the production of knowledge in global health?

Note: Jury member(s): Grégoire Mallard

The record appears in these collections:
Theses in progress > Anthropology and Sociology

 Record created 2017-05-11, last modified 2017-05-11

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