Emma Gertrude Pask
Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationChicago, U. of
Grant numberGr. 10441
Approve DateOctober 11, 2022
Project TitlePask, Emma (Chicago, U. of) "Ecologists on the Range: Bats, Biosecurity, and Texas' Other Sovereign Stories"
Home to the world’s largest bat colonies, bat scientists in Texas play a growing role in mediating the concerns of shared space and blurred boundaries between species as climate change increasingly alters these arrangements. Texas is also a longstanding laboratory for American political forms and competing sovereignties; it is at the forefront of both climate conservatism and potential action otherwise. This project ethnographically investigates twinned formation and maintenance of Texas’ ecological and political mechanisms. My dissertation asks: how do bat scientists and their ecological thinking both uphold and disrupt settler-colonial governance in Central Texas? How does bat research help to create the landscapes upon which colonial and racialized sovereignty claims can be made and in what ways might the bats make alternatives necessary? Uniting the geographic frameworks of borderlands, the plantation, cattle economies, and energy extraction, I propose that the ecological and mythic imaginary of Texas is found on the range. On the range, questions of sovereignty shape ecological research; ecology, in turn, can reinforce Texan regimes of biosecurity and property. Bats transgress all of this—the state’s territorial boundaries, biological categories, and ecological thresholds—and in doing so, lay bare the politics of who gets to live where and how.