Insect wars

Bees, bedbugs and biopolitics *

Authored by: Renisa Mawani

Routledge Handbook of Law and Theory

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138956469
eBook ISBN: 9781315665733
Adobe ISBN:


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As climate change, global food shortages and permanent conditions of war have become matters of public debate in the Western contemporary moment, insects have repeatedly made headlines in local and national news. By many accounts, bees and bedbugs have become critical agents in global cities: disruptive, ungovernable, and perhaps most importantly, inseparable from human life and death. This chapter focuses on insect life and death as a methodological approach to law and social theory that takes the interrelationality of human-nonhuman life and death seriously. Specifically, I consider insects as biopolitical agents that carry important legal and political consequences for the environment and for the longevity of human life. The plasticity of insects, I have suggested elsewhere, has become vital to discussions over life and death in ways that demand an urgent rethinking of prevailing conceptual frames and schemas. Under current conditions of permanent war and against persistent efforts to safeguard Western freedoms at home and abroad, bees and bedbugs have extended juridical regimes and modes of surveillance, creating new human-nonhuman interdependencies. Changing global configurations and the growing significance of insects therein demand new ways of thinking that foreground the metaphoricity and materiality of more-than-human life and death.

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