Author:Mara Dicenta (William and Mary)
Paper short abstract:
The killing of a dog in Spain during the Ebola outbreak in 2014 ignited questions of biosecurity and multi-species encounters. My analysis of the case shows that biorisk and biosecurity studies provide a prism for understanding how the ethical and ontological status of nonhumans are negotiated.
Paper long abstract:
During the Ebola outbreak in 2014, a nurse in Madrid got infected after encountering a repatriated missionary who had contracted Ebola. The nurse had a dog, Excalibur, who was subsequently killed after being deemed a health-security risk. Based on an analysis of how the story was reported in the news, I argue that the dog, Excalibur, was enacted as at least three different dogs: infected, "zoonosing" (contagiousness across species), and alive/dead. The three different biorisk-dogs were entangled with different practices of knowledge, power, governmentality and co-habitation.
Minimizing risks under urgency leads to "imaginative enactments" (Collier and Lakoff 2008) in different forms, which took place in the treatment of the Spanish repatriated priest by reestablishing a previously dismantled public hospital as a quarantine unit. However, instead of managing the risk of Excalibur-with-Ebola, or the management of the crisis space around Excalibur, the Spanish authorities collapsed the distinction between the risk of Ebola and Excalibur, thus producing no imaginative enactment for Excalibur-as-dog/pet.
This treatment lead to people *and* pets to protest, materializing an emergent ecology of the multi-species public. I suggest that the study of biorisk interventions is a privileged space to explore the constitution of different political objects such as viruses, humans, or pets, but also to extend the ontological turn beyond the notion of 'multi-species family' to 'multi-species publics' as an example of an urban "ontoecology" (Bryant, 2011).
Biorisk Intelligence otherwise: Scenarios, Visual Knowledge and new Mechanisms of Surveillance