Roberta Raffaeta (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia) gave a talk entitled “Crossing ecosystems, crossing ontologies. How microbiome science is remaking what does it means to be human” at the visiting seminar on the 20th of January 2023.
Microbes and the microbiome have, in recent years, attracted lots of interest both in the public and in the social sciences and humanities. Microbes, indeed, are connectors that radically change our ideas of what is a body, because microbes entangle bodies and environments. The argument of my presentation will be that before taking the microbiome as an inspiration for social theory, it is important to understand which kind of object is the microbiome. The ERC HealthXCross project is a multi-sited, comparative ethnographic study of how technoscience is reconfiguring practices and ideas of health by aggregating microbial data across time, space and species. Given that the same concept of the microbiome is first of all a technological revolution, in my presentation I’ll discuss how the microbiome is part of a data-driven science that is creating new knowledge at the intersection of landscapes, labscapes and technoscapes, reconfiguring the same idea of ‘scientific object’.