Developing an alternative narrative to the conventional science-based approach to eradication of disease

The dominant colonial scientific narrative of managing disease is one of risk, response, and control. This narrative continues to frame the priorities and delivery of how biosecurity is implemented in Aotearoa New Zealand as well as other countries such as Australia and Hawaii. In this article we explore the narrative position of artistic works, in relation to the pathogens, Phytophthora agathidicida (Kauri Dieback) and Austropuccinia psidii (Myrtle Rust). While much is still unknown about these pathogens, they threaten the unique species of the indigenous forest(s) of Aotearoa New Zealand. The commissioning research team Toi Taoio Whakatairanga sought to widen “public” awareness about the two pathogens. In response, each of the nine commissioned artists has approached the pathogens through a new framing, developing an alternative narrative to the conventional science-based approach to eradication of disease.  We employ collaborative narrative analysis in dialogue with six of the nine artists and their works to describe the artistic practices that have produced the alternative framings. We draw on the notion of Donna Haraway’s contact zone to explore how these narratives as art provide a ‘truth buffer’ free from expectations for action. We speculate how alternative narratives might alter the approach to governance, management, and care relations for Te Taiao/the natural environment.

Crazy & Ambitious Symposium 2022
Toitū Te Ngahere – Art and environment project in schools
Toi Taiao Myrtle Rust presentation Sophie Jerram - starts at 16:24

Sophie Jerram is a curator and researcher with the University of Auckland’s Toi Taiao Whakatairanga project. Dr Gradon Diprose is an environmental social science researcher working at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research. He is currently involved in work through the Beyond Myrtle Rust research programme. Dr Nick Waipara is a senior scientist and Plant and Food Research, a science leader for Ngā Rākau Taketake, and a co-founder and trustee of Te Tira Whakamātaki. He is actively involved in the protection of kauri on the ground and is a hugely respected advisor.

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Robert Beresford
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