- Senior Lecturer
- University of Chicago
Post-War Natures and Contemplative Apicultures: Beekeeping in Bosnia
This project explores beekeeping in Bosnia, where local apicultures are oriented toward medicinal hive products and blend api-science, commercial technologies, and traditional lore. Bosnian beekeepers travel where the tarmac ends: up mountains and into forests and valleys emptied out by economic out-migration and the wars of the 1990s. In pursuit of “clean natures,” apiaries are gently repurposing former combat zones and thriving in the new wilderness, on the periphery of formal politics, and contingent on personal negotiations over access to land across ethno-national difference. While bee products are valued in apitherapy, folk, and Islamic medicine, technological particularities are deeply connected to the beekeepers’ contemplative tendencies, some of whom draw on Islamic textual sources and metaphysical insights. Whereas social thought has lately turned to the ontologies of multispecies encounters and to speculations on new metaphysics, this ethnography attends to the natural worlds where reflective and citational practices undermine key (post)humanist analytics.
Beekeeping in the End Times: Disaster Ecology and Islamic Eschatology in Bosnia and Beyond
At the time of global bee decline and speculations on precarious planetary futures, beekeepers in Bosnia-Herzegovina read the vanishing of the bees as the sign of the world’s end. This project attends to the Bosnian Muslim conceptions of the end times, gathered from vernacular, classic, and cosmopolitan Islamic sources that frame relations with bees and popular responses to the climatic disorder. Contrary to expectations, Islamic references to the end times lead to resilient practices that resonate with cosmopolitan ecological agendas. This project features a multi-media book companion with video-essays and posts from local apiaries to give the taste of the field. Journalistic articles will bring Islamic environmental concerns to the readership of online and print media, while teasing out salient connections between ecology and eschatology in and beyond the Balkans. Finally, collaborations with science writers, conservation biologists, publicly engaged beekeepers, and save-the-bees activists will complement the discourses on apian endangerment with a perspective on the value and meaning of bees.