Securing life: the emerging practices of biosecurity

Hinchliffe, Stephen and Bingham, Nick (2008). Securing life: the emerging practices of biosecurity. Environment and Planning A, 40(7) pp. 1534–1551.




In this paper we review recent social science work on the issue of biosecurity and suggest ways in which geographers and social scientists can approach and intervene in current biosecurity practices. Our argument is that it is both useful and necessary to locate and intervene at sites where the ordering of biomatters is open to doubt and/or contestation. We pitch discourses of biological immanence and emergence against forms of social science thinking which tend to trace overarching logics or seemingly unstoppable forces in matters of power and politics. While acknowledging the import of both literatures, our aim is to engage with the fraught empirical practicalities of making biomatters secure in order to bring to the fore the ways in which life matters are patterned by any number of processes and the ways in which these patterns are always conditional on sociomaterial contingencies.

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