Damaged but Managed: Beekeeping as Transition Support for Soldiers and Migratory Honey Bees
- Date: Thursday, December 8, 2022 - 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM
Building: Traill College - Scott House
This discussion focuses on veteran beekeepers in transition in the space of the apiary. Drawing on concepts of feminist new materialism, trans-corporeality (Alaimo), agential realism (Barad), and vital materialism (Bennett), Pam examines how the ‘veteran’ is created and “successfully re-established in civilian life” through relationships with honey bees. Pam argues that the veteran-honey bee relationship offers a bridge between the biological sciences and social humanities. The deep engagement of the veteran beekeepers with their honey bee subjects is an area that rational science often shies away from, however, these groups are demonstrating the impact of community, connection, and non-humans in mental health and identity recovery. Significantly, the veterans report intense emotional and sensory experiences in their relationship with bees and frame their engagement as “purposeful protection of honey bees through small-scale beekeeping”. It is also suggestive that the role culture plays in successful identity formation is significant enough to disrupt the current dominant medical model. But they also continue to reflect a commitment to binary understandings of identity rooted in colonial and patriarchal attitudes and humanist practices that have developed over centuries of interaction. Is partnership possible through ideologies of protection?
Pam Forgrave is a Ph.D. candidate at Trent University in Cultural Studies. She is interested in multispecies relationships and the impact of science and technology on their interactions. Her dissertation focuses on the centuries-long relationship between soldiers and honey bees and the ways they have shaped understandings of 'the other'. They have a shared experience of weaponized bodies and are perceived as meritorious despite the levels of harm they inflict and have inflicted upon them in the service of others. Pam’s interest in this area developed during her years working with veterans transitioning to civilian life and a commitment to expanding civilian understanding of the realities of soldiers’ lived and embodied experiences. Pam considers herself a bee-lover rather than a beekeeper for it is the bees that keep her grounded, keep her connected, and inspire her to imagine a new way to ‘bee’.
Posted on November 16, 2022