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Managing the Breakdown: Forms and Calculations in the Administration of Bovine Tuberculosis

Dr Kim Ward, School of Planning and Geography, Cardiff University
Tuesday 13th May 2014 - 4:00pm
Glamorgan Building Council Chamber

Please join us for this Environment Research Group Seminar featuring Dr Kim Ward who will present under the title: Managing the breakdown: forms and calculations in the administration of bovine tuberculosis.

This paper focuses on the practical intersect between farm and policy makers by exploring one way in which bTB is managed: through a disease report form (DRF). A DFR is an epidemiological questionnaire undertaken with farmers when a TB breakdown on farms has been confirmed. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) a DRF "asks questions [of farmers] on management practices and other information about farm…This information is to help [us] manage the TB breakdown… establish its origin and manage possible spread to other farms (Defra 2008:12). 

This paper will examine the history of the disease report form; from its early development in the guise of a 'TB49' form in 1999, to its current format: the DRF. It will examine how this epidemiological practice has developed and changed over time and in doing so it will use Michel Foucault's concept of governmentality as a framework to explore how such practices become enrolled within particular mentalities of government. Using this theoretical framework as a foundation the paper will explore the ways in which practices of epidemiology are used to "manage the TB breakdown", unpicking the tension concerning the need to create a dialogue between farmers and government vets, alongside the forms employment as a tool of farm data collection and disease calculation.