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Technopolitical transformations of insect bodies: managing beekeeping in Australia

Sat, September 1, 4:00 to 5:30pm, ICC, E5.4


The ‘pollinator crisis’ – the death rates of bees in particular – has garnered much scientific and public attention of late. Dealing with the loss of bees has most often been considered in technical terms – finding and mediating the cause through innovation in science and technology. However, it is increasingly clear that beekeeping as natureculturetechnics (Law 2004) requires attention. This paper explores beekeeping technologies, as a contribution to work on more-than-human politics. Drawing from STS-inspired research on animal biopolitics and mundane technologies, bees are figured in three ways: first, as captured creatures, contained and governed through technological means; second, as technologies of surveillance, acting as sentinels and sensors; and third, as managed labourers that provide fundamental ecosystem services. Each figuration contains contestations that raise questions about the roles of bees and beekeeping in agrifood systems, and beyond. By attending to the technologies and controversies implicated in beekeeping, this study offers insight into how more sustainable and just relations might emerge among those involved – insects, plants, people, and others besides.