Lind, M. J. (2022). On Spotted Lanternflies and Other Failed Containments: Bioinsecurity in Suburban Pennsylvania. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2676
Since their unintended introduction via shipping material, spotted lanternfly (SLF) populations have steadily risen in Pennsylvania. As the insects moved into counties, towns, and yards, so too did the state’s warnings, echoed through Facebook community groups, local newspapers, tight community social networks, and SLF management methods in yards. This thesis is concerned with this echo, the echoing of urgent calls to eradicate SLF, specifically as they flashed up affectively in a brief moment in time and space. The focus of this ethnography is my residential community’s efforts to contain the movement and multiplication of SLF. I consider these zealous pursuits of SLF containment metonymically, in hopes to elucidate the structures of feelings reverberating through my community in this time. Much of this thesis is grounded in Judith Butler’s conceptualization of precariousness as the vulnerable condition of living with others in community. I further employ notions of communitas/immunitas drawn from Roberto Esposito; collective feelings and affect from Sara Ahmed; Susan Lepselter’s understanding of resonance; and Neel Ahuja’s conceptualization of bioinsecurity. I investigate how feelings of threat, anxiety, and precariousness felt by residents of my town were amplified and rebroadcast within the local social structures and contexts that primed residents to urgently commit to killing SLF as new “invaders” well in advance of their actual arrival. I show how scrambling for autonomy (and inevitably failing to reach it) has only made this community feel more at the whims of others, which is to say, more precarious.