Avian Reservoirs

9781478006138: Hardback
Release Date: 7th February 2020

9781478006985: Paperback
Release Date: 7th February 2020

14 illustrations

Dimensions: 152 x 229

Number of Pages: 264

Series Experimental Futures

Duke University Press Books

Avian Reservoirs

Virus Hunters and Birdwatchers in Chinese Sentinel Posts

Frédéric Keck traces how the anticipation of bird flu pandemics has changed relations between birds and humans in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan, showing that humans' reliance on birds is key to mitigating future pandemics.
Hardback / £86.00
This book can only be pre-ordered within 2 months of the publication date.
Paperback / £21.99
This book can only be pre-ordered within 2 months of the publication date.

After experiencing the SARS outbreak in 2003, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan all invested in various techniques to mitigate future pandemics that involved myriad cross-species interactions between humans and birds. In some locations microbiologists allied with veterinarians and birdwatchers to follow the mutations of flu viruses in birds and humans to create preparedness strategies, while in others, public health officials worked toward preventing pandemics by killing thousands of birds. In Avian Reservoirs Frédéric Keck offers a comparative analysis of these responses, tracing how the anticipation of bird flu pandemics has changed relations between birds and humans in China. Drawing on anthropological theory and ethnographic fieldwork, Keck demonstrates that varied strategies dealing with the threat of pandemics—the stockpiling of vaccines and samples in Taiwan, simulating pandemics in Singapore, and monitoring viruses and disease vectors in Hong Kong—reflect local geopolitical relations to mainland China. In outlining how interactions between pathogens, birds, and humans shape the way people imagine future pandemics, Keck illuminates how interspecies relations are crucial for protecting against such threats.

Frédéric Keck is Senior Researcher at CNRS, director of the Laboratory for Social Anthropology in Paris, coeditor of The Anthropology of Epidemics, and author of several books in French.

“In this ethnography of the prevention of bird flu pandemics in Asia, Frédéric Keck dazzlingly interweaves perspectives from the anthropology of sciences and institutions, an account of the modernization of methods of biopower, and a fine-grained analysis of relations between endangered humans and nonhumans in order to show how common values evolve out of their mutual vulnerabilities. A crucial contribution to the reformulation of political rules for the coexistence between different forms of life.”

Philippe Descola, Collège de France