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Annabell Fender

Doctoral Fellow


Campus Am Neuen Palais
Am Neuen Palais 10
Building 1, Room 0.15
14469 Potsdam


by appointment only

Dissertation Project

Thinking with (Honey)Bees: Interspecies Intimacy in the Patchy Anthropocene

My PhD thesis explores and analyses the ways in which human-(honey)bee relations in Australia have been, and continue to be, impacted by settler colonialism and capitalist industrial agriculture. The project engages with ideas and methods emerging from the fields environmental humanities, postcolonial and settler colonial studies, Indigenous studies, critical animal studies, and STS. I read this more-than-human entanglement as a nature-culture assemblage of relations – e.g. between introduced European honeybees (Apis mellifera) and native bees, such as sugarbag bees (Tetragonula carbonaria), Varroa mites, monocultures, urban gardens, beekeepers and other ‘pollinator people’ (Ellis), settlers and First Nations people. Reflecting on my own positionality in relation to my research, which will be informed by my visit at the University of Melbourne on unceded lands, I engage with questions of interspecies intimacy, human and more-than-human interdependency, and care.

The framework of the ‘patchy Anthropocene’ (Tsing et al.) determines the temporal and conceptual scope of this work. I employ ‘patchiness’ to both acknowledge and resist the inherent failures of the Anthropocene term, while leaving room for the possibility to resituate the human within the realm of Nature in the concept, and conversely more-than-humans within ethical and cultural domains. By thinking with (honey)bees in the patchy Anthropocene, I attempt to complicate these binaries, acknowledge interspecies co-dependency and reciprocal vulnerability in a time of pollinator decline and climate change, as well as unearth bee-agency in processes of species co-shaping and co-becoming.



My academic path has been firmly rooted at the University of Potsdam so far, where I obtained my B.Ed. and M.Ed. in English & History, as well as a Supplementary Certificate in Interdisciplinary Gender Studies. I also studied the M.A. Anglophone Modernities in Literature and Culture for few (unfortunately digital) semesters. Throughout my studies, I worked as a tutor for schoolchildren, as a student coordinator of the Buddy Programme at the International Office, and I was employed in various positions as a student assistant at Potsdam’s English department.

Since October 2022, I’m a joint doctoral fellow at the RTG minor cosmopolitanisms at the University of Potsdam and University of Melbourne, where I will spend the second year of my PhD candidature. Outside of academia, I enjoy the company of my dog Norbert, and taking long walks around Berlin/Potsdam, encountering local (urban) ecologies.


Research Interests

  • Environmental Humanities/Ecocriticism
  • Postcolonial Studies
  • Critical Animal Studies
  • Gender/Queer Studies
  • Fat Studies
  • STS 

Publications / Presentations

“A Stone is not a Stone” Australian Posthuman Summer Laboratory 2024, RMIT University, Melbourne, 26 Feb 2024. [presentation]

“The Mites and the Bees (and the Humans): Biosecurity and Settler Colonial Interspecies Relating in NSW, Australia” A Profound Reorganising of Things, The Australian Centre, University of Melbourne, 15 Nov 2023. [presentation]

"The Utopianism of Universal Basic Income," Global Modernities, 10 June 2021, https://globalmod.hypotheses.org/84. Student Essays. [publication]

“Saving the Other Bees: Vulnerability of Honeybees and Native Bees in the midst of a varroa destructor outbreak in Australia.” Postcolonial Narrations Forum, University of Bonn, 20-22 October 2022. [presentation]

“Starting to Think with Bees in the Anthropocene.” critical uninhabitations workshop, University of Rostock, 23-25 June 2022. [presentation]

“Thinking with Bees in the Patchy Anthropocene.” Invited talk in Critical Animal Studies seminar by Prof. Dr. Anja Schwarz, University of Potsdam, 7 July 2022. [presentation]

“Saving the Bee(Industrie)s: The Varroa Mite Eradication Plan and Australia’s Settler-Colonial Infrastructure of Care” GAPS Conference, Postcolonial Infrastructures, University of Konstanz, 20 May 2023.