ADI/SSN COVID-19 Seminar Series #5: Frederick Keck

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Seminar Series on COVID-19, co hosted by the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship & Globalisation and the Science and Society Network

About this Event

Please join us for seminar # 5 in the COVID-19 seminar series, co-hosted by the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship & Globalisation (ADI) and the Science and Society Network (SSN).


Flying Reservoirs: Virus hunters, birdwatchers and bat carers in Chinese sentinel posts


I will present the Covid-19 crisis through the conceptual grid I have built in my book, Avian Reservoirs, which just came out with Duke UP. Starting from speculations on the bat origins of the new coronavirus, I will ask questions about sentinels, simulations and stockpiling as techniques of preparedness for pandemics. I will then present the genealogy of pandemic preparedness in Hong Kong to ask the question: why were Hong Kong "virus hunters" more prepared "ontologically" for this pandemic? How do techniques of anticipation of future epidemics depend on ontological relations between humans and non-human beings? This will lead me to question Foucault’s definition of sovereign power as "make die and let live" through an ethnographic analysis of culling and releasing animals. The question I will ask then is: how are relations between humans and birds in Hong Kong forged through pandemic preparedness transformed when pandemic preparedness involves relations between humans and bats?

About the speaker:

Frédéric Keck is the head of the Laboratory for Social Anthropology (CNRS-Collège de France-EHESS) funded by Claude Lévi-Strauss in 1960. After studying philosophy at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris and anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley, he has been researching the history of social anthropology and contemporary biopolitical questions raised by avian influenza. He was the head of the research department of the musée du quai Branly between 2014 and 2018.

Watch the seminar:

Seminar will be available to stream on YouTube live. Access using the live link:

Date/time: Tuesday 26th May, 2:30pm - 4:00pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time, GMT+10)

Q&A with the speaker to follow. To send questions/participate in the chat, you'll need to sign-in using a YouTube account.

The seminar will be recorded and available to watch on the SSN YouTube channel after the Livestream.

If you have any questions, please send to

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