Dr. Emily Wanderer

January 14, 2016 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm


Dr. Emily Wanderer

Visiting Assistant Professor, Sociology & Anthropology, Bowdoin College

"Embodied environments, bodies as environments: biopolitics and biosecurity in Mexico"

Thursday, January 14, 2016, at 12:00pm in the Anthropology Lounge, 3106 WWPH


In this talk I analyze what happens when biology – both as a discipline and the bodies described by that discipline – becomes the subject of security practices. Through ethnographic research with immunologists and microbiologists in Mexico, I suggest that as security becomes an ascendant paradigm for organizing life, risk or threat to biology becomes the basis for claims for care and protection. I bring together accounts of how scientists studying urban air quality, immune systems, and infectious disease make perceptible aspects of Mexico that would otherwise have remained invisible, and I analyze how they use these invisible substances as evidence of the biological connections among Mexicans, connections that contribute to ideas of collective identity organized around shared and threatened unseen biology. These connections suggest that improving human health in Mexico requires attention to how the environment affects human bodies and how human bodies themselves constitute an environment for microbial and viral populations. Finally, I show how scientists have moved biopolitics and biosecurity beyond a concern with human life to encompass animal, plant, and microbial worlds. Mexican biopolitics have become multispecies projects.

Location and Address

Anthropology Lounge (3106 WWPH)