Culture, Capture, and Disease: Shrimp Production in the Age of Industrial Aquaculture

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats



This dissertation focuses on the relationship of industrial shrimp aquaculture and shrimp diseases, with an emphasis on the agency of disease in shaping the history of shrimp production. Shrimp aquaculture is concentrated in developing tropical economies, with the significant majority of shrimp exported to consumers in the Global North. The rise of shrimp aquaculture has been accompanied by the development of new technologies and practices, designed to facilitate and govern the growth of the industry. While successful in making aquaculture the single largest production method for shrimp, these innovations also created ideal environments for the emergence and spread of shrimp diseases, which have caused significant and persistent production losses. Disease has brought volatility and risk to producer livelihoods, while also necessitating further technological modernization and development interventions to curb disease outbreaks.

This research draws on qualitative interviews and contextual economic analyses to explore the role of disease at multiple scales. Chapter 2 examines how disease has shaped industry discourses and he practice of shrimp aquaculture across contexts. The role of the concept of biosecurity is examined to highlight the territorial nature of disease prevention. Chapter 3 explores the context of shrimp aquaculture development in Aceh, Indonesia. This chapter applies the general ideas explored in Chapter 2, to a real-world case, highlighting how the pairing of shrimp and disease is managed as a single commodity. Chapter 4 explores the reach of disease globally, and across methods of production. The economic effects of disease on U.S. wild shrimping are explored, along with the role of disease as a narrative element in resisting global aquaculture.

It is argued that shrimp disease shapes commodity relationships, influencing production decisions, and development priorities at multiple scales. The unsympathetic quality of disease makes disease prevention an ideal project for enrolling broad coalitions of human and non-human actors, and negating the politics embedded in the relationship of disease prevention with commodification more broadly.





Dubik, Bradford A (2019). Culture, Capture, and Disease: Shrimp Production in the Age of Industrial Aquaculture. Dissertation, Duke University. Retrieved from


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.