• Bioinsecurities: Disease Interventions, Empire, and the Government of Species

    Pages: 288
    Illustrations: 19 illustrations
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
    Series: ANIMA
    Series Editor(s): Mel  Y. Chen, Jasbir  K. Puar
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  • Preface: Empire in Life  vii

    Acknowledgments  xvii

    Introduction. Dread Life: Disease Interventions and the Intimacies of Empire  1

    1. "An Atmosphere of Leprosy": Hansen's Disease, the Dependent Body, and the Transoceanic Politics of Hawaiian Annexation  29

    2. Medicalized States of War: Venereal Disease and the Risks of Occupation in Wartime Panamá  71

    3. Domesticating Immunity: The Polio Scare, Cold War Mobility, and the Vivisected Primate  101

    4. Staging Smallpox: Reanimating Variola in the Iraq War  133

    5. Refugee Medicine, HIV, and a "Humanitarian Camp" at Guantánamo  169

    Epilogue. Species War and the Planetary Horizon of Security  195

    Notes   207

    Bibliography  231

    Index  249
  • "[T]he histories Ahuja offers in Bioinsecurities can help us to move away from the default mode of racialized panic toward more critical discourses and practices of care in the context of epidemics that cross borders and harm unevenly."


  • "[T]he histories Ahuja offers in Bioinsecurities can help us to move away from the default mode of racialized panic toward more critical discourses and practices of care in the context of epidemics that cross borders and harm unevenly."

  • "Bioinsecurities unsettles human life in its most primal manifestations. Using 'dread life' to describe the racializing process that converts fear of infectious disease into hopeful embrace of the life-preserving and life-making possibilities of technology, Neel Ahuja documents a planetary poetics that channels living forces into the relations of governance. Bioinsecurities is impressive for the scope of its vision and its meticulous attention to detail and nuance. In its careful articulation of the thoroughness of imperial world-making, it offers the possibility of and inspiration for change."  — Priscilla Wald, author of Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative

    "Bioinsecurities unravels the twentieth-century U.S. obsession with disease control, health security, and racialized suspicions. Adeptly harnessing law, fiction, film, and medical research, Neel Ahuja brilliantly tracks how militarized interventions and medical solutions to contain Hansen's disease, smallpox, polio, and AIDS intensified interspecies entanglements between humans, animals, bacteria, and viruses. Ahuja boldly redirects studies of biocitizenship and empire toward a fresh approach to the political as a lively and viscous zone of embodied connection and affective friction."  — Nayan Shah, author of Stranger Intimacy and Contagious Divides

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  • Description

    In Bioinsecurities Neel Ahuja argues that U.S. imperial expansion has been shaped by the attempts of health and military officials to control the interactions of humans, animals, viruses, and bacteria at the borders of U.S. influence, a phenomenon called the government of species. The book explores efforts to control the spread of Hansen's disease, venereal disease, polio, smallpox, and HIV through interventions linking the continental United States to Hawai'i, Panamá, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Congo, Iraq, and India in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Ahuja argues that racial fears of contagion helped to produce public optimism concerning state uses of pharmaceuticals, medical experimentation, military intervention, and incarceration to regulate the immune capacities of the body. In the process, the security state made the biological structures of human and animal populations into sites of struggle in the politics of empire, unleashing new patient activisms and forms of resistance to medical and military authority across the increasingly global sphere of U.S. influence.

    About The Author(s)

    Neel Ahuja is Associate Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and Geography at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
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