Green hour: “Bloodborne: Chasing Ecologies and Power Across Viral Divides” (Prof. Dr. Gregg Mitman)


May 2
12 PM - 1 PM

The fluidity with which viruses can cross the divides separating humans, nonhuman primates and other species proved vital to understanding the natural history of viruses and their control. In West Africa, where colonial resource extraction ushered in immense ecological, economic, political, and social change, flows of capital and building of infrastructure facilitated the search for viruses in the Guinean Forests of West Africa, extending from Sierra Leone to Nigeria. The blood, viruses, insects, and wildlife specimens collected in this region became a foundation upon which Western scientific understandings of viral infectious diseases and their ecologies were built and maps representing West Africa as a disease hotspot were made.   In this project, I draw upon approaches from multispecies studies, environmental and medical history, and political ecology to explore how changing ecological understanding of viruses and power relations shaped by colonial, neocolonial, and neoliberal regimes of conservation, biomedicine, and resource extraction altered alliances among living things, impacted the lives and livelihoods of local people, and remade environmental and health inequalities in different fragments of the Guinean Forests at different moments in time.