Tag: microbes

How Microbes Became Friendly: Visualizations of the Microbiome in Public Media

The biology, as astonishing as it is, does not tell us what it will mean. -Stephan Helmreich, “Homo Microbis” (2014, 4) Within microbiome research, the human body can be recast as a host of microbial ecologies, a “supraorganism” or “holobiont.” From this comes new ways of understanding and treating digestive diseases as well as illnesses associated with brain functioning, like depression and Alzheimer’s. This research reflects the increasing emphasis in the life sciences on “life as process” (Dupre and O’Malley 2007, Dupre 2020), and in the social sciences on the body as “biosocial” (Niehwöhner and Lock 2018). We take up these insights and examine one way that these ontologies of body and environment circulate in public ways by analyzing how the human body is depicted in relation to microbes and environments through public visualizations of the human microbiome. (read more...)

Heather Paxson, Winner of the 2013 Forsythe Prize, on Post-Pasteurianism

Since my undergraduate days, I’ve both aspired to do feminist anthropology and been fascinated with people’s everyday engagement with mundane (and extraordinary) technologies. I can’t express how thrilled and honored I am to receive the 2013 Diana Forsythe Prize for The Life of Cheese: Crafting Food and Value in America (University of California Press), my ethnography of American artisanal cheese, cheesemaking and cheesemakers. I do not present a summary of the book here (if interested, the Introduction is available on the UC Press website: http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520270183). Instead, I alight on some of the STS-related themes that run throughout my book (and especially Chapter 6): regulating food safety and promoting public health, artisanal collaboration with microbial agencies, and the mutual constitution of production and consumption. Real Cheese or Real Hazard — or Both? By U.S. law, cheese made from raw (unpasteurized) milk, whether imported or domestically produced, must be aged at least (read more...)