MUSTS Colloquium with Javier Lezaun (Oxford University) on ‘Collective Entomological Inquiry and Global Health’

Wednesday, June 23, 2021, 15:30-17:00

The link to this online event can be requested by sending an email to j{dot}bruyninckx{at}maastrichtuniversity{dot}nl


This paper explores the constitution of collective entomological inquiry, and its lack of alignment with the sort of standard (‘scalable’) intervention commonly favoured by the contemporary global health enterprise. It analyses an ongoing malaria research project in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania, in which local residents are trained to find swarms of Anopheles mosquitoes in and around their villages. Locating the spots where male mosquitoes congregate in the evening makes possible to target them outdoors, thus complementing the intra-domiciliary effects of insecticide-treated bed nets and indoor chemical spraying. The paper describes how the attempt to decipher the enigmatic spatial logics of mosquito aggregations becomes an opportunity to activate a workforce of swarm finders, embedding malaria control in local circuits of social and economic exchange. For the international funders that sponsor the research, however, the success of the initiative raises questions about its ‘scalability’ that the project team struggles to address.



Javier Lezaun is Associate Professor in the School of Anthropology and Director of the Institute for Science, Innovation and Society at the University of Oxford. His work focuses on the political dimensions of scientific knowledge production. This paper draws on his work with medical entomologists who study mosquitoes to control the transmission of human pathogens. He recently completed a research project on the impacts of the Zika epidemic in Brazil (in collaboration with colleagues at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation), and is currently Principal Investigator of the project Diseased Landscapes, a collaboration with researchers at the Universidad de los Andes funded by the British Academy that explores the entanglement of vector-borne diseases and extractivism in Colombia.