Can We Have a Moment, Please?

The Potential of Multiple Perspectives on Beekeeping and Pollinators

June 7, 2017

Daksha Madhu Rajagopalan and Emily Elsner (Adams)

A Mini Research Moment: Social Science and Pollinator Declines

Honey bees and pollinators have been a core environmental news item in the English-speaking media for the past five to eight years: dying of mysterious illnesses, affected by pesticides, and as generally responsible for the production of many fruits and vegetables on which we rely. Honey bees in particular have had a long, close relationship with people, something often forgotten in the flurry of crises and new discoveries. However, their increasingly frequent presentation alongside polar bears and glaciers as emissaries of environmental collapse and human destruction means it is important to consider both the biological/ecological and the social when discussing honey bee and pollinator declines (Harries-Jones 2009; Mathews 2011). However, bridging this divide can be challenging—and we’d like to know how to do it more effectively.

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A Research Question

Bees, Theories, and Whether Posthumanism Comes to Matter

April 12, 2016

Daksha Madhu Rajagopalan

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In responding to Eduardo Kohn’s recent scholarship on How Forests Think, Bruno Latour has written:

The test is still to come: how could an ethnographer … equipped with such a philosophical anthropology find ways to make his or her ontological claims understood in negotiating what a forest is made of, when faced with forestry engineers, loggers, tourists, NGOs, or state administrators? (2014: 265–266)

Indeed, I wonder the same thing. How might anthropology’s recent “posthuman” and “multispecies” turns be useful? These ontologically inspired theories elegantly dismiss the duality of nature/culture and hold forth a vision of symmetry in the world, yet doing so, as Lucas Bessire and David Bond have argued, is an “unmoored form of speculative futurism” that sidesteps the political and historical realities of life (2014: 441). So I wonder, in politically and historically forged spaces, how can these theories be made useful? Exploring the practical value of anthropology’s recent posthuman/multispecies approaches in politically charged agricultural border zones, such as to aid the honeybee populations who face dire global collapse, is precisely what I wish to do.
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Being with Bees, Sitting with Complexity

The Changing Bee in a Meshwork of Entanglements

August 19, 2015

Daksha Madhu Rajagopalan

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I am walking this afternoon under the burning-crisp summer sun. Limestone surrounds me: in rough rock, in hewn rock, in built houses. The vivid blue Mediterranean Sea, extending from the horizon, also peeks out from the nearby bay, which appears yet distant because it is a steep descent to beach level. I am on the island of Gozo, the second largest of the Maltese Islands. Gozo is hillier and more agricultural than its sister island, Malta. There is a rich tradition of beekeeping on these islands, extending to Roman and perhaps pre-Roman times, and this month of June finds me in Gozo to research the contemporary beekeeping tradition and understand the human­­–bee, flower–hive interactions.

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