From Biological to Political Combat: Itinerary of an Engaged Research

Conversation with Alex Aebi (University of Neuchâtel)

  • Pierre Caballé University of Neuchâtel
  • Leïla Baracchini Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle – MNHN Paris
  • Alexandre Aebi University of Neuchâtel
Keywords: engagement, pesticides, politic, activist research, participative science, reflexive posture


Alex Aebi est biologiste et ethnologue. Il occupe actuellement un poste de maître d’enseigne­ment et de recherche (MER) en agroécologie au sein de l’Université de Neuchâtel. Il y est également professeur, responsable de la filière biologie-ethnologie. Alex Aebi se définit au­ jourd’hui en tant que «chercheur engagé». Il assume des positions marquées sur les ques­tions environnementales Dans cet entretien, il revient sur les étapes marquantes de son parcours au cours desquelles il a muri sa posture de chercheur engagé. Partant de ses expériences, Alex Aebi évoque ses ré­flexions sur la place de l’engagement au sein de nos universités ainsi que sur ce que pourrait être le visage d’une science qui prendrait au sérieux la question de l’engagement.

Author Biographies

Pierre Caballé, University of Neuchâtel

Pierre Caballé is a Phd student at the Ethnology Institute of Neuchâtel. He is interested in ways of inhabiting the world in a time of environmental changes. His thesis work consists of an ethnographic exploration of the arts of living with bees in a context of declining insect populations.

Leïla Baracchini, Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle – MNHN Paris

Leïla Baracchini holds a PhD in Social Anthropology and Art Theory from the University of Neuchâtel and the EHESS, Paris. Her researches focus on the politics of representation in a context of globalisation and on the processes of commodification of culture and identity. Her doctoral thesis was rewarded with the thesis prize of the Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac 2019. Since 2010, she works in Southern Africa on the cultural transfers involved in the making of contemporary San art.

Alexandre Aebi, University of Neuchâtel

Alexandre Aebi is a biologist, socio-anthropologist and beekeeper. His actual research, focus around the bee, linking projects aiming to better understand the biology of the bee, to understand how the bee and beekeeping are sometimes mobilised to confront societal or political issues and describe the terms of engagement of scientists and beekeepers who have decided to defend them against the controversial use of synthetic pesticides in agriculture.



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Hallmann, Caspar A., Martin Sorg, Eelke Jongejans, Henk Siepel, Nick Hofland, Heinz Schwan, Werner Stenmans. 2017. «More than 75 Percent Decline over 27 Years in Total Flying Insect Biomass in Protected Areas». PLOS ONE 12, no. 10: e0185809.
Low, Setha, and Sally Merry. 2010. «Engaged Anthropology: Diversity and Dilemmas.» Current Anthropology 51(2): 203–226.
Mitchell, Edward A. D., Blaise Mulhauser, Matthieu Mulot, Aline Mutabazi, Gaëtan Glauser, and Alexandre Aebi. 2017. «A Worldwide Survey of Neonicotinoids in Honey». Science 358: 109–111. DOI: 10.1126/science.aan3684
Oreskes, Naomi, et Erik M. Conway. 2010. Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloomsbury Press
Temper, Leah, Dylan McGarry and Lena Weber. 2019. «From Academic to Political Rigour: Insights from the ‹Tarot› of Transgressive Research». Ecological Economics 164: 106379.
How to Cite
Caballé, Pierre, Leïla Baracchini, and Alexandre Aebi. 2022. “From Biological to Political Combat: Itinerary of an Engaged Research: Conversation With Alex Aebi (University of Neuchâtel)”. Swiss Journal of Sociocultural Anthropology 27 (April):94-107.