Author Jake Kosek to Speak on New Uses of the Honeybee in the War on Terror

Author and lecturer Jake Kosek will speak at Sarah Lawrence College on Monday, February 2nd at 6 p.m. in the Science Center, Room 103. Kosek will be discussing the rise of the honeybee as a tool and metaphor in the war on terror. This event is free and open to the public. For more information please email College Events, or call (914) 395-2412.

According to Environmental Studies faculty member Charles Zerner, the largest source of funding for apiary research comes not from the USDA but from the Pentagon and the U.S. military as part of efforts to remake entomology in an age of empire. This funding is being used in three areas, he says: first, to train a new generation of bees to make them even more sensitive to specific chemical traces—everything from plastic explosives to the tritium used in nuclear weapons development to land mine detection—and second, to enhance bees’ weapon detection abilities through transgenic engineering processes and the biosynthesis of new traits. Finally, in an explicit attempt to redesign modern battlefield techniques, the Pentagon has returned to the form and metaphor of the swarm to combat the unpredictability of the rhizomorphic enemy in the Global War on Terror.

In exploring the new uses of the honey bee, Kosek will discuss the cultural and material remaking of nature, tracing changes to the hive and understandings of the bee, in relation to current fears and battlefield strategies.

Kosek is an Assistant Professor of Geography at the University of California, Berkeley, and holds a doctorate in geography and a master’s degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Kosek is a coauthor of Race, Nature and the Politics of Difference (Duke University Press, 2003), which explores the intersections of critical theories of race and nature, and author of Understories: The Political Life of Forests in Northern New Mexico (Duke University Press, 2006), an ethnography that examines the cultural politics of nature, race, and nation amid violent struggles over forests in northern New Mexico. Understories received the John Hope Franklin Book Award for the Best Book in American Studies.

Sarah Lawrence is a liberal arts college for men and women, founded in 1926, with a distinctive system of education. It is known for having one of the lowest (9:1) student/faculty ratios in the country. At the core of the system are small classes, regular one-on-one student-faculty conferences, cross-disciplinary approaches and the integration of the creative arts within the curriculum.