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Accepted Paper:

Caring for the Enemy: Rearing and Releasing Manipulated Mosquitoes  
Luísa Reis Castro (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Paper short abstract:

Manipulating mosquitoes, employing them to control the diseases they transmit, simultaneously transforms them into problem and solution. This paper examines this ambiguous "worldly becoming" through the practices and concerns in caring for mosquitoes and releasing them to betray their own species.

Paper long abstract:

The mosquito species Aedes aegypti has recently made headlines around the world: the Zika virus it can transmit, by biting an infected person and spreading the virus in subsequent bites, has been (possibly) linked to cases of microcephaly and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Aedes aegypti is also the main vector for dengue and chikungunya. Vaccines and treatments are currently unavailable for these mosquito-borne diseases, and public health policies have historically revolved around eliminating the mosquito, the "enemy species" (Mitchell 2002; Stepan 2011).

New techniques aim to control these diseases by manipulating the Aedes aegypti: scientists infect it with Wolbachia bacteria to hamper its ability to transmit viruses; genetically engineer it to limit reproduction or development; or sterilize it through irradiation. By rearing these manipulated mosquitoes and releasing them to mate with their "wild" counterparts, these techniques intend to employ mosquitoes as "flying public health tools" (Beisel & Boëte, 2013). In these projects, Aedes aegypeti becomes problem and solution, the mosquito, thus, emerges as an ambivalent "bio-subject".

Drawing on fieldwork at a "biofactory" that produces genetically modified mosquitoes in Brazil and interviews with scientists who developed these techniques, this paper parses the ambiguous "worldly becoming" between humans, mosquitoes, and viruses. While anthropologists and STS scholars have pointed to "interspecies intimacy" (Kelly & Lezaun 2014) and "entanglements" (Nading 2014) between humans and mosquitoes, this papers focuses on the ambivalence of practices and concerns that surround the laborious and attentive care for mosquitoes so they can be released to betray their own species (Wanderer 2014).

Panel T089
  Session 1 Saturday 3 September, 2016, -