Zoonotic diagrams: mastering and unsettling human-animal relations

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27 Citations (Scopus)


This article approaches interspecies relations through an examination of the prevalent visual device employed in the representation of animal-human infection in the life sciences: the zoonotic cycles diagram. After charting its emergence and development in the context of bubonic plague, I explore how this diagrammatic regime has been applied in two distinct practical contexts: a plague warning sign on the Grand Canyon National Park hiking trail; and the on-line public information campaign launched by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the wake of the Ebola outbreak of 2014-16. The article demonstrates the principal ontological and biopolitical operations of these diagrams, arguing that, far from simply summarizing epidemiological narratives of animal-human infection, they function both as pilots of human mastery over human-animal relations and as crucial sites of unsettlement for the latter.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-485
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Issue number3
Early online date3 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017


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