The Issue

Pandemics, epidemics, zoonoses and emerging infectious diseases seem to speak of a generalised threat to life, affecting people, livestock and wildlife.

a global biological cauldron, a connected, shrinking planet where diseases, wherever they emerge, can never be distant threats.

Biosecurity, in its broadest sense, aims to make life safe.  But we quickly encounter questions associated with this simplest of aims:  Whose life?  Safe for what?  Safe in what sense?  Through which means?

This project aims to answer these questions through an investigation into biosecurity in the UK, its practice and public acceptance, focusing on animal diseases that cross species and are a potential threat to people. 

Our approach

… is different.  We are focusing on the interfaces where different concerns and commitments meet up.  We are investigating the tensions that exist as biosecurity is put into practice.  These tensions exist at sites or in situations where different logics brush up against one another.  We call these sites ‘borderlands’, and they are places where security is pulled in different directions, where the barrier or closure model of security is always compromised and where different accounts of biosecurity are needed.

We are doing this through a case study approach and multi-site and multi-species ethnography.  The ethnography leads to a re-framing of biosecurity concerns and questions.

The approach is informed by cutting edge work in Geography, Science and Technology Studies, Sociology and Anthropology.