Courtney Addison: Poison politics. Pest control as pharmakon in Aotearoa New Zealand

Sep 1 , 2022 

Online and In-per­son pre­sen­ta­tion at Deakin University


4:00 – 6:00pm



Aotearoa faces an enor­mous con­ser­va­tion chal­lenge. The coun­try is char­ac­terised by swathes of hard-to-access ter­rain and his­toric species loss­es aris­ing from the intro­duc­tion of rats, cats, and oth­er preda­tors to islands pre­vi­ous­ly free of mam­mals. Recog­nis­ing this, suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments have set ambi­tious con­ser­va­tion goals, includ­ing the Bat­tle for our Birds, and recent­ly Preda­tor Free 2050, a mul­ti­stake­hold­er project that aims to elim­i­nate all rats, stoats and pos­sums. Cen­tral to these con­ser­va­tion efforts is 1080, an odour­less, colour­less poi­son that is hung from sacks on trees, and dust­ed from heli­copters across large tracts of country.


1080 is unique­ly con­tro­ver­sial in Aotearoa, spark­ing a mea­sure of protest that was (at least until recent­ly) unusu­al. Build­ing on Courtney’s chap­ter in the forth­com­ing edit­ed book An Anthro­pogenic Table of Ele­ments (Neale, Addi­son, and Phan, eds), this paper traces 1080’s uptake and con­tes­ta­tion in Aotearoa. Draw­ing on archival and media mate­r­i­al, Court­ney shows how the poi­son draws togeth­er mil­i­tary and colo­nial log­ics, and is put to the task of secur­ing some species’ lives by prop­a­gat­ing death amongst oth­ers. She sug­gests that we think of 1080 as a phar­makon: simul­ta­ne­ous­ly rem­e­dy, poi­son, and scapegoat.



Court­ney Addi­son is a Lec­tur­er in the Cen­tre for Sci­ence in Soci­ety at Te Heren­ga Waka—Victoria Uni­ver­si­ty of Welling­ton. Her work moves across anthro­pol­o­gy and Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Stud­ies, and med­ical and envi­ron­men­tal top­ics. Cur­rent projects inves­ti­gate the pol­i­tics of poi­sons use in New Zealand con­ser­va­tion, and how infor­ma­tion about phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals trav­els between doc­tors, patients, and phar­ma­cists. With Tim Neale, Kari Lan­cast­er and Matt Kearnes, she is an edi­tor of Sci­ence, Tech­nol­o­gy, & Human Values.



Join us for an in-per­son gath­er­ing at Deakin Water­front: ad1.122 in the Sal­ly Walk­er build­ing (click here for the map).

Zoom details avail­able by request: