205. Evil Animals? Pests of the Sea, Sky, and Land

Christopher Kelty, UCLA;

The planetary destruction of pests remains one of the most central and least studied aspects of human-nonhuman relations, across agriculture, urban living, and disease management. Despite a warm, fuzzy decade of multispecies entanglement, in which science studies and animal studies have elevated the status of animals and speculated joyously about living with animals, pest control and animal management generally remains a thorn in the side of the coming world of living-with. Pest control has a somewhat hidden history, from its origins in late 19th century germs and germ warfare and settler colonial agricultural expansion to the mid-century modern orgy of chemical invention of pesticides and rodenticides to the turn of the neoliberal 21st century dominance of "integrated pest management." Pest control science is the dark shadow of 20th century biomedicine---emerging out of chemical warfare, forming a dark complement to "invasion biology" and knotting together working class bodies who control pests, colonial and settler colonial landscape control, and ever-greater anxieties of insect/animal villains and their zoonotic menaces. Implicit in pest control---including practices of disease-related culling, genetic elimination, and reproductive control---is a certain human commitment to designating some animals and plants as evil. Can it be? This panel gathers scholars working on pest management, pest biology, pest activism, or generalized theories of pestiness and pestiferousness to address this evil. Papers focusing on the emblematic and canonical work on invasion and pest control in Hawaii are especially welcome, along with other island-pest inquiries.

Contact: ckelty@ucla.edu

Keywords: Governance and Public Policy, Environmental/Multispecies Studies, Food and Agriculture, pests, pesticide, urban animals, resistance, euthanasia, IPM, disease

Published: 04/07/2023