PHEBES Reading Group

PHEBES is a collective of researchers interested in understanding the socio-spatial nexus of environment, security, surveillance, and health. We are building a network of people that engage with materials and questions involving data, information governance, and capital accumulation as they pertain to the materialities of bodies, ecosystems, and microbial life in the current era of biosurveillance.

Through readings and discussions, we aim to understand:

  1.     How cultural, social, economic, and political norms shape knowledge of and responses to infectious disease, technology, and data; and
  2.     How disease vectors shape these norms and community responses to disease threats and surveillance/security interfaces.


The pandemic has brought a renewed urgency and widespread awareness of health surveillance and security measures. From behavioral data such as cellphone logs and flight records, to biological data including blood and wastewater, information about infectious disease emergence, transmission, and evolution has been positioned by governments and the private sector alike as key to managing global public health. These dynamics have been perhaps most evident in science, policy, and popular media with the emergence of wastewater-based epidemiological surveillance of SARS-CoV-2. In the current pandemic moment, wastewater and other biological materials and tissues are increasingly being targeted by epidemiologists and biotech companies as a potential site of microbial information and profit.


Join the reading group: Are you interested in discussing emergent and timely themes in political ecology, biosecurity, and urban governance? Please email us with your name, email, and institutional affiliation, and we’ll add you to the reading group listserv.

We discuss new themes each month across a wide range of topics, and we’d love for you to join us!


The PHEBES Reading Group is a series of monthly meetings for interested members to discuss a set of readings and materials (podcasts, documentaries, films, etc.). The meetings and resources will be organized around an annual theme, with each annual theme diving into a contemporary field of knowledge, scientific practice, or object of concern.

2022 Theme: Public Health

Our first annual PHEBES Reading Group series will be focused on Public Health. We will trace the emergence and implications of the growing reliance on biological surveillance and security as solutions to manage the current pandemic and to govern urban public health into the future.