Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Anthropology, University of Notre Dame

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2008
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Wisconsin / Madison
Threatening Lives: Controlling Avian Flu in Vietnam's Poultry Sector

Bird flu threats are provoking global health organizations and the Vietnamese government to standardize poultry production for "biosecurity" purposes, thus reforming an industry historically dominated by small-scale rural farms. My dissertation project will use comparative ethnographic research at three sites of avian influenza management in Vietnam to examine the following research questions: How are expanding global health efforts against avian influenza restructuring poultry economies, while simultaneously creating new boundaries between humans and animals? How do farmers cope with these changes in their everyday production practices, and in dialogue with global health policies and practitioners? This study (1) expands investigations of epidemics by examining emerging pandemics, a recent but increasingly central global health concern, (2) further problematizes the concept of "risk" in social science by attending to its growing role in organizing transnational relationships and local boundaries between nature and culture, and (3) provides a rich ethnographic account of how local human-animal relations impact, and are impacted by, global health and economic patterns. Using participant-observation, interviews, and epidemiological data analysis, I will show how the lived realities of poultry production intersect and collide with national development goals and expanding global efforts against pandemics. This research will address broad issues of anthropological concern surrounding the construction of Self and Other by exploring the intersection of global health governance, the articulation of pandemic risks, and the transformation of human-animal relations.