Ann Kelly, Exeter University will be giving a seminar in Geography on ‘The Experimental Hut: Hosting Vectors, Containing Practice’ at 2pm on Weds 12th March in room W010.
“Designed to simulate malaria transmission on the domestic scale, the experimental hut is an instrument of entomological research constructed in the fashion of indigenous homes, but structurally modified to render mosquito behaviours visible. Fusing generic scientific space and specific inhabited place, it makes for an uncanny domicile: the hut’s metal roof is overlaid with thatch; its canvas walls are lined with interchangeable mud panels. Raised a metre off the ground, its steel scaffolding feet are submerged in oil-filled trays. It is, on one hand, an impersonation of a village home, an abstraction of the oikos. On the other hand, the experimental hut concretizes – or in Roy Wagner’s (2012) terms, expersonates – the domestic character of transmission: it renders vivid the parasitic exchange between mosquito and human.
The experiment’s domestic camouflage provides the setting for multiple, and reciprocal, hostings: between parasite, mosquito, and human, but also between scientists, villagers, and the research participants. The guest situation, the position of those volunteers who spend the night in the experimental hut to lure mosquitoes, is particularly perilous. Yet this peculiar trap creates a space in which to recognize these reciprocities and transform their lethal potential into exercises in restraint. This paper explores the ethical and epistemic valences of the ‘home’ as a site of experimentation and the biopolitical engagements this exercise of containment sets in motion.”