PHEBES Reading Group

PHEBES (Political Health Ecologies of Bioescurity & Environmental Surveillance) 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.

Why?

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 PHEBES

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

You can register to attend our second Zoom meeting here (Jan 11th at 10pm EST):

If you are having trouble accessing the readings, please contact us and we will find a way to get them to you.

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

Format

The PHEBES Reading Group is a series of monthly virtual 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.

Readings

You can find a working list of readings for our first four sessions here.

Next Meeting: Wednesday January 11th, 10pm-11:30pm Eastern Standard Time (Canada)

Readings:

  • Browne, Simone (2015). B®anding Blackness: Biometric Technology and the Surveillance of Blackness. Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness(pp. 89-130). Duke University Press.   
  • Parry, Bronwyn (2012) Domesticating biosurveillance: ‘Containment’ and the politics of bioinformation. Health & Place 18: 718-725. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2011.10.010 
  • Intercept and Rutgers Conversation on Surveillance in an Era of Pandemic and Protest (Sept 2020) w/ Naomi Klein, Shoshana Zuboff, and Simone Browne (1hr 14m); https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ_jvdAP-7U