Pestering capitalism: thinking with Halyomorpha halys about multispecies relations and ecological unsustainability



Many non-human species trouble human-oriented forms of multispecies life, which leads to classifying some of these species as pests. One of the fields of daily life most disturbed by the action of pests is modern capitalist agriculture, leading to different types of pest management by which human beings attempt to eliminate pests' opposition to the anthropogenic appropriation of the life-making efforts and energy of multispecies assemblages, an appropriation which is essential for capital circulation. In dominant modern capitalist cosmologies, the disturbances caused by pests automatically justify and require their attempted extermination. Without denying that pests are troubling, I argue that the technoscientific framing of human relationships with these species is insufficient as a way of understanding and interacting with them. Rather than exclusively seeing pests as a problem, the manner in which humans interact with these species points us to several foundational – and in themselves problematic – aspects of modern capitalist world-ecology. Taking my research on networks concerned with kiwifruit farming and commercialization in Portugal as a basis for my arguments, I look at how actors in these networks propose to deal with Halyomorpha halys, the brown marmorated stink bug, in an attempt to think with this species about the (inextricably connected) socio-ecological unsustainability of modern capitalist world-ecology and the bio-thanato-political strategies of immunization employed to deal with non-human species in this political ecological system.

Keywords: bio-thanato-politics, Halyomorpha halys, immunitas, kiwifruit farming, modern capitalist world-ecology, pests

How to Cite: Aldeia, J. (2022) “Pestering capitalism: thinking with Halyomorpha halys about multispecies relations and ecological unsustainability”, Journal of Political Ecology. 29(1). doi: