Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (H5N1) in Hong Kong, 1997 - 2014: Towards an Urban Biopolitical Immunology

  • Yu Hin Wong

Student thesis: Phd


The thesis traces the successive urban responses made by the Hong Kong government from 1997 to 2014, in an attempt to achieve "imagined immunity" for the city. The urban responses being analysed are efforts to regulate the ways in which "live poultry" (especially live chickens) is metabolized and circulating in the city. The efforts are made to re-order the human-birds-microbes relationships in Hong Kong - a process conceptualized as "re-urbanization of nature." The consequence of these re-urbanization of nature processes, led to changes in the specific practice of consuming "live poultry" in the city. Four periods of re-urbanization of nature are identified in the analysis, and it is argued that in each wave of restructuring there were markedly different frames constructed to generate distinctive meanings of the "contagion condition," imagined urban immunity, and practices of re-urbanization of nature. Their meanings and resultant practices were products of negotiations, within an entangled web of human and nonhuman features in particular periods. The context of these interventions and the biopolitical contestations are analyzed in the thesis. It is then argued that such contingencies and context-sensitive processes, call for further studies of post-epidemic urban changes. The thesis also explores the possibility of developing a theoretical framework of "urban biopolitical immunology" to accomplish the inquiry. By so doing, it seeks to contribute to studies of the politics of contemporary epidemics, and to research on the production of urban nature.
Date of Award1 Aug 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorErik Swyngedouw (Supervisor) & Maria Kaika (Supervisor)


  • Urban political ecology
  • Avian Influenza
  • Hong Kong
  • Emerging infectious disease
  • Biopolitics
  • Biosecurity

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