Performing Bureaucratic Theatre in Academic Science Fields, A Case Study: The Pheromone Trees and Coyote

Published: Oct 29, 2023
Synthesis Anglophone Journal of Comparative Literary Studies Comparative Literature re-storying stories multispecies survival multispecies narratives Eastern coyote pheromones DIY bio institutionalization bioethics sensory communication territoriality
WhiteFeather Hunter

This essay examines a project entitled The Pheromone Trees and Coyote as a case study, to draw an analogy between concepts of territoriality—regarding fluid territories of highly adaptive wildlife species—and the fixed ‘territories’ of institutional management systems that deal with them. Coyotes, as a ‘varmint’ species in Canada, can be subject to violent control strategies, with little to no restrictions in place. Yet the case study, first proposed within the context of an academic research programme (situated on the opposite side of the planet and with entirely different ecological circumstances), became burdened with prerequisites—theatrically absurd certification processes and field performances, considering the open permissibility of local regulations. This paper will discuss how a remote federal ‘partnership’ framework of institutional governance can be seen to represent extended colonisation, where blanket restrictions on access to natural ‘resources’ (i.e. ‘fur-bearing’ animals) discount lived, hyperlocal realities of citizens and wildlife experts.

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Author Biography
WhiteFeather Hunter , University of Western Australia

WhiteFeather Hunter is a multiple award-winning Canadian artist and scholar, residing in Perth, Australia. She is currently a PhD candidate in Biological Arts at the University of Western Australia, supported by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Fellowship, an Australian Government International RTP Scholarship, a UWA Postgraduate Scholarship and numerous other fellowships, bursaries, and grants. Before commencing her PhD, WhiteFeather was a founding member and Principal Investigator of the Speculative Life BioLab at the Milieux Institute for Arts, Culture and Technology at Concordia University. Her art practice intersects technofeminism, witchcraft, micro and cellular biology with performance, new media, and craft. Recent presentations include at Art Laboratory Berlin, RCA London, and the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic as well as numerous other recognized international institutions. Recent academic publications include Mooncalf Menstrual Meat (MMM), Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies; Mooncalf Unclean Meat, Technoetic Arts: A Journal of Speculative Research; and, The Witch in the Lab Coat—Deviant Pathways in Science, Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies. WhiteFeather’s doctoral research into developing a novel menstrual serum for tissue engineering was spotlighted by Sigma-Aldrich for International Day of Women and Girls in Science 2021 as part of their #nextgreatimpossible campaign.

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