In this episode, Luísa Reis-Castro shares her piece “Politics of Nature: Mosquitoes, Pathogens, and that which divides Brazil.”
Dr. Luísa Reis-Castro (she/ela) is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the USC Society of Fellows in the Humanities for 2021-2023. She earned her PhD in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) at MIT. Her dissertation, titled “Vectors of Health: Epidemics, Ecologies, and the Reinvention of Mosquito Science in Brazil,” examined efforts to address the pathogenic viruses transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes—such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya, and yellow fever—and argues that their enrollment in various scientific and health campaigns can be understood as materializing a racialized politics of the Brazilian nation.
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Notes and Further Reading
– Abortion is legal in cases of rape, risk to the mother’s life, and anencephalic fetuses.
– Together with anthropologist of health Carolina Nogueira, I have examined how in Brazil there was an almost exclusive focus on the vectoral and vertical transmission routes, even though the pathogen can also be transmitted through fluids. Zika was then framed as a virus transmitted only by mosquitoes and the epidemic as a concern only for women. This negligence to attend to transmission through fluids, especially the sexual transmission of Zika, left many women at risk of infection. “Who Should Be Concerned? Zika as an Epidemic About Mosquitoes and Women (And Some Reflections On COVID-19),” Somatosphere (April 6, 2020). Also forthcoming, “Uma Antropologia da Transmissão: mosquitos, mulheres e a epidemia de Zika no Brasil,” Ilha: Revista de Antropologia.
– Golpe is the Portuguese world for coup d’état. Political commentators and scholars have argued the impeachment process was a “parliamentary coup” with judicial and media support. Even Temer, who took over Roussef, has called the process a golpe at an interview once. Besides coup d’état, the word golpe can also mean a con or a blow: the very controversial legality and legitimacy of the process can already be seen as a heavy hit to the stability of the democratic institutions and to the trust into the rule of law.
– Gabriel Lopes and Luísa Reis-Castro, “A Vector in the (Re)Making: A History of Aedes Aegypti as Mosquitoes That Transmit Diseases in Brazil,” in Framing Animals as Epidemic Villains, ed. Christos Lynteris (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 147-175.
– Anahí Guedes de Mello and Gabriela Rondon (2020) have shown how the right to abortion, as part of the struggle to secure concrete conditions for an autonomous life, is a common ground between demands from feminist and disability rights movements. “Feminism, Disability, and Reproductive Autonomy: Abortion in Times of Zika in Brazil,” Somatosphere (February 17, 2020).
This show is produced and edited by Emma Moesswilde and Natalie Wilkinson, with music provided by Natalie Wilkinson and Christine Murphy. Special thanks to Elizabeth Hameeteman. For more on Ecotones Now, click here. Thanks for listening!