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Will He Be There?: Mediating malaria, immobilizing science.

Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
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  • Economics


This paper focuses on an unsettling example of experimental labour - the Human Landing Catch (HLC). The HLC is a cheap and reliable technique to produce data on mosquito densities in a defined area. It requires only a human volunteer to sit over night with his legs exposed, a headlamp to spot mosquitoes, and a rubber tube and plastic cup to catch them as they come to feed on him. The HLC formed the central methodological and operational strategy for a malaria control that took place in Dar es Salaam, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This paper analyses the epistemic and economic value of this experimental scenario by examining in detail the work it entails. In conceptualizing the different species of productivity associated with the HLC, of particular interest is the surprising fact that he is there. This paper argues that the interplay of mobility and immobility offers a way to rethink the value of research within interlocking circulations of capital, science, mosquitoes and men.

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