Authors: Nida Rehman*, University of Cambridge
Topics: Urban Geography, Cultural and Political Ecology, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: urban nature, urban political ecology, disease, epidemiology, water, more-than-human
Session Type: Paper
Start / End Time: 1:20 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Napoleon, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 41st Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded
In times of epidemiological threat, the public health state descends on the everyday spaces of the home and the city — stray tires, neglected water buckets, or overgrown plants — recasting them as units for surveillance and citizen enrollment. Meanwhile insect vectors move freely between these biopolitical sites, taking advantage of fractures in urban networks. While urban political ecology has emphasized the inequities of water flow and access in relation to neoliberal urban development, it has been less instructive about the growing threats of vector-borne diseases like malaria, dengue fever, zika, and chikunguniya. The urban geographies of stagnant water, where mosquitoes breed, thus deserve closer scrutiny. Drawing from ethnographic observations of dengue control in Lahore, this paper examines the ways in which the ‘micro-ecologies’ of water storage vessels, puddles, tires, waste, and plants index a myriad of historically specific and multi-scalar power imbalances linked to urban development. Moreover it observes how the governmentality of vector control through worker management and citizen awareness, as well as through the construction of pathological imaginaries of urban nature, elide the historical fractures and ongoing disparities of contemporary urbanization that shape landscapes of disease in the city.