Thurs. March 23: 2017 Mergen Palmer Distinguished Lecture: Staging Smallpox feat. Prof Neel Ahuja
Staging Smallpox: Racial Speculation, State Secrecy, and the Environmental Logics of Iraq War'
In the recent United States presidential campaign, the public discourse on 'fake' news and intelligence reports regularly made reference to the 2002-2003 reporting on the Iraqi biological weapons threat as an example of the failure of the state and media to properly assess risk. Yet the current transformations in both the media ecology and the form of the security state are intensifying the racialization of crisis thinking that enabled the Iraq invasion in the first place. Detailing the public health, literary, and journalistic constructions of the Iraqi smallpox threat prior to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Neel Ahuja outlines how security discourses configure planetary space and time through speculations of the environmental migration of figures of biophysical risk, ranging from vivisected laboratory monkeys to threatened indigenous peoples and Islamic rogues. This work is an excerpt from Ahuja's 2016 book Bioinsecurities: Disease Interventions, Empire, and the Government of Species.
Neel Ahuja teaches in the interdisciplinary humanities programs at the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he is an Associate Professor in the Feminist Studies Department and the Critical Race and Ethnic Studies Program. His research focuses on the geopolitics of transborder environmental crisis and interstate security.