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The mosquito’s umwelt, or one monster’s standpoint ontology

Shaw, Ian G.R., Jones III, John Paul, and Butterworth, Melinda K. (2013) The mosquito’s umwelt, or one monster’s standpoint ontology. Geoforum, 48 . 260-`267. ISSN 0016-7185 (doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2012.11.028)

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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2012.11.028

Abstract

Mosquitoes are able to vector malaria and other diseases across the planet, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths each year. Not only is this a challenging management problem, we also find it to be underlined by an important philosophical problem, namely: the impossibility of controlling "life". Influential Estonian biologist Jakob von Uexküll wrote that every creature on Earth, from sea urchins to spiders, lives within a unique sphere of existence called an "umwelt", or "surrounding world". The umwelt defines the specificity of relations shared between an organism and its environment. Using this concept we complement existing work on monstrous natures in geography by arguing that "monstrosity" arises in the excesses and discontinuities between the mosquito’s umwelt and the human efforts that seek to eliminate it. This finding arises from fieldwork undertaken with public health and vector control officials in the U.S. state of Arizona over several years. Their focus on reducing mosquito breeding sites suggests the complex and emergent spatialities of the monstrous.

Item Type:Article
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s):Shaw, Dr Ian
Authors: Shaw, Ian G.R., Jones III, John Paul, and Butterworth, Melinda K.
Subjects:G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences > Geography
Journal Name:Geoforum
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0016-7185
ISSN (Online):1872-9398
Published Online:16 January 2013

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