Rosie Sims

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva

Grant number

Gr. 9560

Approve Date

October 11, 2017

Project Title

Sims, Rosie, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland - To aid research on 'Towards a Brave New World: New Configurations of Virus, Vector, and Human Relations in Colombia,' supervised by Dr. Vinh-Kim Nguyen

Global health interventions are increasingly characterised by the use of technology. In the context of emerging arboviruses such as the Zika outbreak, the global strategic response places an emphasis on controlling the vector–in this case the mosquito–that carries and transmits the virus. Technological interventions produced by researchers in global health are being developed to regulate and mediate the way humans live with these insects. This research intends to explore vector control in order to understand how these new ways of intervening depart from existing rationales of eradication. Focusing on a group of scientists using a technology creating Wolbachia bacteria-infected mosquitos that cannot transmit viruses such as Dengue or Zika, in Medellín, Colombia, this project will follow the various actors involved in such a process that makes the natural ‘safe’ or ‘acceptable’ to live with. I hypothesise that such a technology departs from a rationale of eradication, and represents something radically different: the idea of ‘living with’ such insects. This is a very different way of conceptualising health and risk, and could represent a paradigm shift with important consequences for the field of global health, raising questions with ecological and ethical implications. By focusing on a technology of vector control, this research will therefore address the following questions: How do new forms of technological intervention depart from previous global health efforts in vector control, on an epistemological level as well as on a concrete and practical level that impacts people’s lives? Are we witnessing a paradigm change? What are the ethical implications of such interventions? And finally, how can we apprehend global health as a process through the study of a case of technological intervention?