PROJECT

PROJECT

VETERINARIZATION OF EUROPE?
Hunting for Wild Boar Futures in the Time of African Swine Fever (BOAR) 

 

The BOAR project is an anthropological study of veterinary knowledge and practice beyond animal health, examining how veterinary science increasingly mediates human-wildlife interactions, and serves to structure and govern society through biosecurity measures. More specifically, the project focuses on how recreational hunting communities, self-appointed stewards of wild boar, are becoming key subjects for veterinary interventions. The BOAR team members pursue a collaborative, ethnographic investigation of the relationship between three understudied subjects in anthropology: veterinary medicine, European hunting and wild boars. 

 

 

Locations in which BOAR team members will conduct their ethnographic research.

In recent decades, the wild boar has proliferated, (re)conquering the natural, rural and urban landscapes of Europe, and increasingly clashing with human practices and worlds. Classified as a game animal, the boar is primarily killed and managed by recreational hunters. Yet, hunters are proving incapable of stemming the tide of this intelligent, adaptable being, an interspecies relation that challenges hunting’s value and legitimacy in European society. This tension has amplified with the arrival of African Swine Fever (ASF) to the EU: a fatal virus that travels between wild boar and domestic pig, forest and farm, and threatens to infect and ruin the pig industry. In the name of biosecurity, and informed by veterinary knowledge, some States have intervened and conducted mass culls, erected dividing fences across Schengen space,or instituted no-go zones. During this crisis we witnessed how veterinary medicine’s role can extend beyond mediating human-animal relations, and work to structure and govern human lives in general. 

At the intersection of boars, hunting, ASF and veterinary medicine, this project has two main objectives. First, to examine how European hunting and porcine futures are intertwined, and the role of veterinarians in shaping these futures. Second, through human-boar relations, study how society is becoming increasingly veterinarized and thus shape the conceptual and methodological development of the emerging field of veterinary anthropology. This project will further contribute to anthropology by opening a novel empirical and theoretical niche for the anthropology of hunting, and experiment with ethnography as a tool of engagement with near futures. The emerging and uncertain impact of ASF in Europe seems like an excellent moment to conduct the BOAR project.

The BOAR project is funded by the European Research Council (Consolidator Grant No 866350; 2020-2025). It is lead by Dr. Luděk Brož, head of Department of Ecological Anthropology at the Institute of Ethnology of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The team further consists of one senior researcher (Dr. Thorsten Gieser), three postdoctoral researchers (Dr. Kieran O’MahonyDr. Marianna Szczygielska and TBA), one doctoral researcher (Laura Kuen, MA) and five research associates (Dr. Aníbal G. ArreguiDr. Erica von Essen, Dr. Paul G. Keil,  Professor Garry Marvin and Dr. Virginie Vaté).