Frédéric Keck

Laboratoire d’anthropologie sociale, CNRS

Opening Plenary: June 9, 11.30 am CEST

How to do an Ethnography of Preparedness. Including Non-Humans in the Anticipation of Pandemics

Biosecurity studies have traced the genealogy of techniques of preparedness from contemporary pandemics and natural disasters to Cold War anticipations of nuclear attacks. They have shown the transformations of these techniques, such as sentinels, simulations and stockpiling, as they apply to a generic threat with multiple beings. But how can we describe ethnographically the entanglements of these beings in an imaginary of future disasters? I will take the case of the surveillance of avian influenza in Hong Kong as it enrolls virologists and birdwatchers in the anticipation of pathogens crossing species borders. The situation of Hong Kong as a sentinel post at the borders with mainland China is a specific ethnographic scene, but I will ask how it can be extended to other sites of intense surveillance of early warning signals of future threats.


Avery Gordon

University of California, Santa Barbara & University of London

Closing Plenary: June 12, 3.00 pm CEST

The Hawthorn Archive and the Utopian Margins

 The philosopher Ernst Bloch declared that “all given existence and being itself has utopian margins that surround actuality with real and objective possibility.” In this talk, I will describe the work of the Hawthorn Archive and its methodology, which invites consideration of the utopian margins where running away, marronage, vagrancy, rebellion, soldier desertion and other often illegible forms of escape, resistance, and alternative ways of life predominate.


Frédéric Keck is director of research at the CNRS and a member of the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale based at the Collège de France in Paris. After studies at the Ecole Normale Supérieure and at the University of Berkeley, he joined the CNRS in 2005, where he conducted ethnographic research on health crises caused by animal diseases, firstly at the Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire des Aliments (2005-2007) then at the Hong Kong Pasteur Research Centre (2007-2009). He recently published Avian Reservoirs. Virus Hunters & Birdwatchers in Chinese Sentinel Posts (Duke University Press 2020).

Avery F. Gordon was was a Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara for thirty years and is currently Visiting Professor at Birkbeck School of Law University of London. She is the author of The Hawthorn Archive: Letters from the Utopian Margins (2018); The Workhouse: The Breitenau Room (with Ines Schaber) (2015); Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination (1997/2008); Keeping Good Time: Reflections on Knowledge, Power and People (2004) and Mapping Multiculturalism (1997), among other books and articles. Her work focuses on radical thought and practice and she writes about captivity, enslavement, war and other forms of dispossession and how to eliminate them. She serves on the Editorial Committee of the journal Race & Class and has been the co-host of No Alibis, a weekly public affairs radio program on KCSB FM Santa Barbara since 1997.

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