Drawing on Roberto Esposito’s conceptualization of ‘affirmative biopolitics’, this article examines the relationship between bedbugs and humans in the Glasgow neighbourhood of Govanhill. Through an analysis of ethnographic field notes and interviews with people who live in the area, this article traces their experiences from first encounters. The trajectory of this experience shows a shift from a desire to immunize their homes through total annihilation of the creatures to the more pragmatic position of learning how to live with them through an orientation toward ‘shared vulnerability’. This case study raises interesting questions for biopolitical theory: how can we conceive of affirmative biopolitics when the limitations of species being are evident, and is it possible to conceive of a multi or even interspecies munus or obligation?
- affirmative biopolitics
- shared vulnerability