Geographies of folded life: How immunity reframes biosecurity

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Geographies of folded life: How immunity reframes biosecurity

Biosecurity, in broad terms, aims to reduce the impact and incidence of threats to life through regulatory means. For reasons we raise in this paper, such regulation can often lead to the specification of disease free processes within the food and farming industry, with biosecurity success measured in terms of the degree of compliance with and allegiance to modern farming practice. We counter this progressive narrative in three ways. First we draw on UK-based qualitative fieldwork with vets, farmers and pigs to demonstrate how biosecure farming and disease freedom are translated and qualified, in practice, to pathogen free, pathogen management and ultimately to configuring health through immunity management. Second, these translations demonstrate how building health is dependent on spatial and microbiological diversity rather than uniformity. Crucially, health involves patch-work and situated knowledge practices that are under threat within an industry increasingly marked by control and homogeneity. Third, in conceptual terms, we argue that while pig farming is organised through both biosecurity and a biopolitical regulation of life, immunity opens up political space for exploring an alternative politics of life, one where farmers and others are not so much made responsible for disease prevention, but make valued contributions to understandings of animal health and food security.

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