Josef Barla

studied Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Vienna. He is a Research Associate in the “Biotechnology, Nature and Society” Research Group in the Faculty of Social Sciences of the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. From 2012 to 2013, he was Visiting Scholar at the Science and Justice Research Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and in 2017 Affiliated Researcher of “The Seed Box: A Mistra-Formas Environmental Humanities Collaboratory” based at Linköping University in Sweden. His research interests include technoscience studies, new materialisms, (techno)biopolitics, philosophy of technology, and feminist epistemologies.


Core Publications

Barla, J. (2021). Beyond reflexivity and representation: diffraction as a methodological sensitivity in science studies. Distinktion: Journal of Social Theory, DOI: 10.1080/1600910X.2021.1934506 .

Barla, J. (2021). Response-ability in the age of insects. Towards a politics of re-presenting as responding. In: Benek Çinçik and Tiago Torres-Campos (eds.), Postcards from the Anthropocene, Barcelona: dpr, 242-247.

Barla, J. (2019). The Techno-Apparatus of Bodily Production. A New Materialist Theory of Technology and the Body. Bielefeld: transcript.

Barla, J., & Hubatschke, C. (2018). Technoecologies of borders: thinking with borders as multispecies matters of care. Australian Feminist Studies 32(94): 395-410.

Barla, J. (2016). Technologies of failure, bodies of resistance: science, technology, and the mechanics of materializing marked bodies. In: Victoria Pitts-Taylor (ed.), Mattering: Feminism, Science and Materialism. New York: New York University Press, 159-172.

Barla, J. (2016). Verschränkungen von Gewicht. Von Verbindungen zu Un/Bestimmtheiten. In: Harrasser, K., and Rößinger, S. (eds.), Parahuman. Neue Perspektiven auf das Leben mit Technik. Köln: Böhlau, 164-173.

Barla, J. (2015). ‘Ihr wortlos Lied, vielstimmig, scheinbar eins’: Die Frage nach dem Politischen in Bruno Latours Technikphilosophie. In: Singer, M. (ed.), Technik und Politik. Von Benjamin und Deleuze bis Latour und Haraway. Wien: Löcker, 88-115.
Most recent

Barla, J., Kluzik, V., and Lemke, T. (2022). Biokapital. Beiträge zur Kritik der politischen Ökonomie des Lebens. Frankfurt am Main and New York: Campus.

Barla, J., and Trischler, R. (2022). Neomaterialistische Techniksoziologien – Potenziale, Spannungen und Desiderata. Behemoth: A Journal on Civilisation, 15 (1).

Barla, J. (2022). Rück-kehren als antworten: Technik, ‚Race‘ und das gespenstische Erbe von Materialisierungen. Behemoth: A Journal on Civilisation, 15 (1).

Barla, J., and Bjork-James, S. (2022). Introduction: entanglements of anti-feminism and anti-environmentalism in the far-right. Australian Feminist Studies, 36 (110), 377-387.

Barla, J., and Bjork-James, S. (2022). A climate of misogyny: gender, politics of ignorance, and climate change denial – an interview with Katharine Hayhoe. Australian Feminist Studies, 36 (110), 388-395.


Ensuring public health through mobilizing death: Expectations as future-making practices in the bioeconomy of transgenic mosquitoes (Az., 1/10-09/2023, Fritz Thyssen Stiftung für Wissenschaftsförderung)

Mosquito-borne diseases such as the Zika virus and malaria are increasing dramatically word wide. As traditional methods of vector control prove to be little effective and often harmful to local ecosystems, new approaches are sought for tackling this public health crisis. Amongst the most promising ones are genetic strategies which use the mosquitoes’ own biology and reproductive capabilities against themselves. These approaches not only turn the mosquitoes into a public health tool but also promise the large-scale eradication of mosquito-borne disease.

Starting from the hypothesis that rather than only commodifying the vital processes of ‘life itself’ (Franklin; Rose), death and eradication is inscribed into the mosquitoes’ genetic code in order to ensure public health, the aim of my research is twofold: First, I explore the role of expectations as future-making practices in the bioeconomy of transgenic mosquitoes through which not only ‘speculative value’ (Sunder Rajan) is generated but also particular futures made present at the exclusion of others. Second, I argue that these novel genetic strategies mark a broader shift in molecular genetics from the production of ‘biovalue’ (Waldby) to what I will call ‘necrovalue’—that is, the technoscientific mobilization and economization of death itself as that which entails value.