Ensuring public health through mobilizing death: Expectations as future-making practices in the bioeconomy of transgenic mosquitoes

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.
Principal investigator(s)Dr. Josef Barla
Period10.2021 – 09.2023
Funding institutionFritz Thyssen Stiftung für Wissenschaftsförderung