NEWS | BIOSEC AT AAG, WASHINGTON DC, APRIL 2019

Don't miss out on seeing the BIOSEC team at AAG 2019!

This year Hannah Dickinson, Jared Margulies and Francis Masse are at AAG in Washington DC. See below for details of where and when to find them!

Securitization of non-human lives and spaces
06/04/2019, 1:10 – 2:50 PM
Stones Throw 3 – Mica, Marriott, Mezzanine Level

Along with Laszlo Cseke, Hannah Dickinson has organised this session. She will present on ‘Securing Sturgeon: Politics of Life and Death in the pursuit of ‘Black Gold’.

Sturgeon are the most critically endangered group of species on the planet. Despite the fact that species of sturgeon are precipitously close to extinction, the fish have hardly captured the attention of the conservation world or been subject to the same ‘militarized conservation’ strategies that increasingly characterise attempts to secure the lives of charismatic species such as rhino and elephants. This paper argues that unlike the securitized conservation practices directed at numerous high-value species, the conservation of sturgeon remains largely unsecuritized. On the other hand, the commodification of sturgeon as ‘lively capital’ circulating in the global economy, has resulted in sturgeon lives being rendered as referent objects of security. I make the case that processes of securitization designed to ensure the longevity of sturgeon for purposes of capitalist accumulation have resulted in ostensibly ‘securitized caviar economies.’ As global bans on wild sturgeon fishing have been applied and extended, the caviar industry has been forced to respond by exclusively farming sturgeon to meet global caviar demand. The paper examines the impact of this shift in production methods from a biopolitical lens, seeking to interrogate the complex human–nonhuman relations that characterize ‘securitized caviar economies.’ In particular the paper dwells on the politics of life and death: of human interventions designed to ‘make live’ and ‘let die.’ The paper argues that sturgeon lives are not secured indefinitely, but that their deaths are precisely governed in order to extract caviar from their bodies and whet the appetites of humans seeking to consume ‘Black Gold.’

Anthropocene Anxieties: Post-humanist and psychoanalytic approaches in dialogue with political ecology
05/04/2019 9:55 – 11:35 AM
Roosevelt 4, Marriott, Exhibition Level

Jared Margulies will present his paper ‘Desire and the non-human: the illicit cactus and affective geographies of extinction

Mammilaria bertholdii is a tiny cactus with unique feathery spines. Bertholdiii’s habitat is limited to just one or two known locations of less than 20 km2 in Oaxaca, México. It was first described by German taxonomists in 2013. Within a year of these publications, seeds and small grafted stock of these rare plants were for sale online and at cactus conventions in Europe. Given bertholdii’s relatively slow growth, and cryptocarpic fruits (retained within the plant stem) it is certain individual plants and seeds were illegally smuggled out of Mexico prior to the species being described in the literature. In its earliest years, grafted bertholdii could fetch over 500 dollars or more per individual plant. The greatest threat (in habitat) bertholdii faces is from illegal collection in México. This paper is about desire and the non-human in the context of both extinction and abundance. What does it mean to desire a newly described species, and what can attention to desire, in the psychoanalytic sense, offer to post-human political ecology for thinking about the affective dimensions of politics mediating human relations with other life? My paper will draw on several months of fieldwork with conservationists, cactus collectors, law enforcement actors, and scientists in Europe and Mexico to explore the affective dimensions of endangered, ‘lively’ commodities in their global transit. I will approach theorizing desire in the context of non-human life as a means of advancing new paths for bridging post-humanist theory with political ecology’s commitment to matters of inequality and injustice.

Jared is a panelist on “Vegetal Geography: Is it a thing?” on 06/04/2019 from 8:00 – 9:40 AM in Harding, Marriott, Mezzanine Level. He has also jointly organised ‘Advancing the position and politics of plants in more-than-human analyses‘ on 06/04/2019 from 9:55 – 11:35 AM in Harding, Marriott, Mezzanine Level and again at 1:10 – 2:50 PM in Harding, Marriott, Mezzanine Level.

The Long Wars I: Mapping Liberal Empire through the War on Drugs and the War on Terror
05/04/2019, 3:05 – 4:45 PM
8211, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level

Francis Masse will present his paper ‘Mapping new configurations and geographies of military, security and policing power with the “war” on poaching

Listed as the fourth most lucrative transnational organised crime after drugs, guns, and human trafficking, wildlife trafficking is garnering significant attention and resources from military, security, and law enforcement sectors. This has materialised in what some, including the US, refer to as the “war” on poaching. This so-called “war” has manifested in an array of western-led interventions to disrupt illicit wildlife economies from supporting in-country and transnational law enforcement and policing efforts, developing local and global intelligence networks, US and UK military involvement in anti-poaching and related training in Africa and Asia, and mainstreaming efforts to combat wildlife trafficking in official development assistance. What has catalysed western powers’ new found interest in wildlife trafficking is its multiple entanglements with the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, and other transnational security concerns. Indeed, commercial poaching and illicit wildlife economies are putatively linked to terrorism and insurgencies in what is known as “threat finance,” and overlap with other forms of transnational organised crime, including drug trafficking. Hence, much like these other liberal “wars”, the “war” on poaching is enabled by a coming together of humanitarian-like (saving biodiversity) and security imperatives. Combining ethnographic data with quantitative and spatial analyses, I detail the novel configurations and geographies of global military, security and policing power that wildlife trafficking and its integration into regional and global security politics is producing. I conclude by asking whether this biodiversity-security nexus provides an emerging dynamic through which we might map the evolving contours of liberal empire.

Francis is also a panelist on ‘Critical Resource Geography III: Resource-Making/World-Making‘ on 06/04/2019 5:00 –  6:40 PM in Washington 6, Marriott, Exhibition Level