Place-Making in Sociobiological Networks: Stakeholder Responses to the Asian Longhorned Beetle in Worcester, Massachusetts

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Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


In response to the discovery of the nonnative Asian Longhorned Beetle (ALB) in 2008, the United States Department of Agriculture implemented eradication strategies in Worcester, Massachusetts, and the surrounding towns, in order to preserve the hardwood forests of New England. This research highlights the importance of drawing connections between multi-scalar and -positioned perceptions of this eradication, moving beyond invasion biology to paint a more holistic picture of the introduction and interactions with the “invasive” species. Informed by the concept of place-making, or situating lived experiences with material culture, social networks, and policy, this presentation investigates how nature and culture coincide in the lives of stakeholders affected by the nonnative insect. Place-making illustrates the intricate connections between humans and the environment in Worcester, MA, as the local environment comes alive through stakeholders’ interactions with and perceptions of it. Through in-depth interviews with policy makers and town officials, and focus groups conducted with residents in highly impacted areas, the complex navigation between local and expert knowledge of trees, as well as complexities in the circulation of information, gives insight into stakeholders’ understandings of their homes and environmental communities, promoting an approach for future prevention of nonnative species that legitimizes the knowledge of an entire community.


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