„Bee in transition? On New Attentions for Bees and Beekeeping in Social Anthropology

11.-13. Mai 2017, Workshop at the Ethnographic Museum, University of Zurich

In a first workshop young academics from France, UK, Germany, PR China, and Switzerland repor­ted from their current trans- and multidisciplinary research projects on bees and beekeeping. The majority of the workshop participants are beekeepers themselves. Different issues of the current and urgent research field of bees and beekeeping have been discussed, among them:

  • questions of “glocal“ diversity and distribution of beekeeping practices, bee hive systems and material beekeeping culture (from handmade beehives to smart beekeeping) in China, France, UK, Russia and Germany, Switzerland and Malta;
  • forms of social structure, organization and networks of beekeepers;
  • anthropological basic research with regard to ecologic and socio-technological practices of local human-bee/nature-systems;
  • questions of political ecology (biologic-ecologic vulnerability of bees and beekeeping, varroa treatment strategies, coexistence of beekeeping and agriculture);
  • theoretical basic research with regard to human-bee relationships in research fields as human-animal studies and multispecies ethnography;
  • methodological approaches of anthropological research on bees and beekeeping and questions of multidisciplinary cooperation with other relevant bee and beekeeping research fields;
  • questions of filmic representation of beekeepers, and knowledge of beekeeping and bees;
  • spirituality and beekeeping.

Two different recent film works about beekeepers/beekeeping in Cameroon and Germany/Russia have been presented. The workshop was completed with a presentation of Hans-Ulrich Thomas of mellifera.ch and an excursion to the urban beekeeping project Wabe 3. As a next step the partici­pants plan to bundle the different existing national and personal initiatives and networks in an inter­national young academic network and inform funding institutions about long-term funding require­ments for urgent research in the field of bees and beekeeping.

This workshop was organized as the start of an emerging focus point of (technological) anthropo­logical research on beekeeping in China at the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich.

Contact persons: Prof. Dr. Mareile Flitsch flitsch@vmz.uzh.ch; M.Sc. Aline von Atzigen vonatzigen@vmz.uzh.ch; Ethnographic Museum at the University of Zurich, Pelikanstrasse 40, 8001 Zurich, Switzerland.


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