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FRIHUMSAM-Fri prosj.st. hum og sam

Pig Non Grata: Understanding Biopower, Necropolitics and Securitization of Nature through the ‘War on Boars’

Alternative title: Pig Non Grata: Makt over liv, krigen mot villsvin og nekropolitikk i forvaltning av natur

Awarded: NOK 8.0 mill.

Project Number:

315567

Project Period:

2021 - 2025

Location:

Subject Fields:

The wild boar is a species of wildlife that is managing to thrive in a world where other large mammals tend to struggle and sometimes become extinct. The boar’s fast spread into Norway has earned it a place on the blacklist, making it an outlaw species to be contained at all costs. In this project, we explore the ‘war on boars’ across societal sectors. Capturing how various actors prepare for a wild boar invasion, including building preparedness plans for the mitigation of disease risks and threats to agriculture, enables our project to study a real-time process of biosecuritization. Biosecuritization refers to the protection of various forms of life against threats to this life. This means culling some forms of life, wild boar, to protect others, like public health, biodiversity and agricultural assemblages. We use interviews and participant observation of hunters, farmers, landowners and forest users to reveal bow biosecurity over wild boars is negotiated and implemented on the ground. Within this, we examine the technologies of control that wild boars invite at various levels of society, from fencing, zoning, quarantine, isolation and processing of meat to more outlandish proposals of immunocontraceptives. In the analysis, the wild boar is understood as a catalyst for changed human-nature relations, including how hunters and farmers adapt their traditional practices with biosecurity agendas. In a world in which we aim for the increased control of borders and the movement of life, what does the 'war on boar' tell us about future directions for nature conservation?

In the war on boars, veterinary medicine, epidemiology and conservation ecology have mobilized a regime of biosecurity that aims to keep boars down and out at any cost, waging necropolitics on unruly life. The approach raises questions about the implications of proactive interventions in nature, the process of turning animals into numbers to be culled, and nature users into agents of biosecuritization. The war on boars can be leveraged toward methodological insights as to how, and with what effect, a necropolitical regime is put in place, legitimated, or contested on the ground by biopolitical actors. As wild boars are just now making their way into Norway and onto its blacklist, they facilitate the real-time study of biopower and necropolitics in relation to invasive species. Our project will study the war on boars as a heuristic device, responding to calls from various disciplines to utilize animals as windows into society. The case has the potential, first, to show how assessments over who lives or dies, and for what good, are made by sectors in society in the name of biosecurity. Second, we deploy boar as catalysts for changed human-nature relations, including how hunters and farmers reconcile their traditional practices with biosecurity agendas. Through interviews and ethnography we document the technologies of control that wild boars invite at various levels of society, from fencing, zoning, quarantine, isolation and processing of meat to more outlandish proposals of immunocontraceptives. Our research proposes to apprehend the means and arenas by which biopower imposes fundamental changes, not only on the animal itself, but in the everyday practices of hunters, farmers, landowners and forest users and their relations to one another. This is synthesized in a final workpackage to contribute to insights on nature management paradigms, with the command-and-control model to wild boars marking a departure from rewilding approaches.

Funding scheme:

FRIHUMSAM-Fri prosj.st. hum og sam