Yet another event from Cultures of Cultures next year. We have organised an open panel in the next 4S Conference, which will take place in New Orleans between the 4th and 7th of September, 2019. The deadline for submission is on the 1st of February, 2019. Find below the abstract to our panel. More information about the conference and the submission can be found following this link.
Title: New Social Forms of the Post-Antibiotic Era: More-than-Human Hybrids, Governance and Knowledge of Human-Microbe Relations
During the past decade, microbes have come to occupy new and central spaces in scientific enquiry as well as their social analysis. As microbes mutate, adapt and evolve towards resistance to antibiotics, there is mounting pressure to search for new ways of preventing illness. While antibiotics are no longer readily available to do their ‘magic’, new social forms that enable peaceful coexistence with microbes are emerging, instead of a war against microbes that Pasteur established and Latour documented in Pasteurisation of France. Societies are rethinking relationships between humans, animals, and environment in radically new ways, e.g. by building immunity through fermentation or enhancement of gut microbiota; development of vaccines, phage therapy or novel antibiotics; and promotion of sustainable food production. In this process, drug resistance is not only framed as a medical concern but also social, economic and political.
Re-situation of microbes is present in biomedical research and care, policy and governance, and everyday practices. STS offers tools to regenerate understanding of microbes; interruptions caused by the absence of efficient medical countermeasures; and innovative practices that emerge as a result. This panel puts microbes at the centre of social analysis and opens up new avenues for thinking about microbial knowledge, governance, and more-than-human relations.
We welcome presentations focusing on, among others:
Practices where traditional narratives about microbes are subverted;
Formation of more-than-human hybrids including microbial forms of life;
Governance practices and strategies aimed at regulating microbial relations;
New communities of knowledge around new practices with microbes.
The session is organized by Salla Sariola; salla.sariola (at) helsinki.fi, and Jose A. Cañada; jose.a.canada (at) helsinki.fi. Feel free to get in touch with them if you have any questions about the session!
Inside the context of Cultures of Cultures, some of our members have organised a thematic session in the next NordicSTS Conference, which will take place in Tampere during the 13th and 14th of June, 2019. The deadline for submission is on the 18th of January, 2019. More information about the conference and the submission can be found following this link.
Title: Governance and knowledge of human-microbe relations
Abstract: During the past decade, 130 years after the discovery of microbes, microbes have come to occupy new and central spaces in scientific enquiry as well as their social analysis. Faced by the threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and with more knowledge of the impact of healthy gut microbiota to human health in general, science is beginning to change its understanding of microbes, infections and antibiotics. On the one hand, microbes are being redefined as supportive non-human neighbours whose number vastly exceeds the number of humans on the planet. On the other, the prospect of increasing resistance requires redefinition of how infections are cured and prevented. Consequently, relationships between humans, animals, and environment are changing, evident e.g. in the practices of building immunity through fermentation or enhancement of gut microbiota; development of vaccines against bacterial infections, phage therapy or novel antibiotics; promotion of sustainable food production; and readjustments in mundane medical practices. This re-situation of microbes is present in biomedical research and care, policy and governance, and everyday practices in medical contexts and households. STS offers tools to regenerate understandings of the microbial more-than-human forms of life and their governance; human-microbe relations; interruptions caused by the absence of efficient medical countermeasures to AMR; and innovative practices that emerge as a result.
This session puts microbes at the centre of social analysis and opens up new avenues for thinking about microbial knowledge, governance, and more-than-human relations. We welcome presentations focusing on, among others:
Practices where traditional narratives about microbes are subverted;
Microbial forms of life as more-than-human hybrids;
Governance and strategies aimed at regulating human-microbial relations;
New communities of knowledge around new practices with microbes;
Medical practices where novel forms of human-microbe relations emerge;
Everyday practices in households that regenerate human-microbe relations (e.g. fermentation).
The session is organized by Salla Sariola; salla.sariola (at) helsinki.fi, Jose A. Cañada; jose.a.canada (at) helsinki.fi, and Tiina Vaittinen, tiina.vaittinen (at) uta.fi. Feel free to contact them if you have any questions about the session!
Kaisa Haukka and Salla attended the AMR – One Health conference in Benin. The event was organized by AMRIWA partners in Benin, Prof Dissou Affolabi and his team. The event was attended by West African researchers and doctors and WHO staff working on AMR. During a round table discussion., Dr. Bernadette Ramirez from WHO asked participants to raise their hands about their backgrounds to get a sense which fields the members of the audience came from. The point that she was making was that to tackle AMR, a One Health approach was needed because resistant bacteria move between human, animal and environmental sources. When she asked how many people in the audience were from environmental studies, one person raised her hand, Kaisa. When the animal and veterinary side was enquired, about 6 people raised their hands. The rest were from clinical backgrounds, apart from one social scientist, Salla.
The presentations were a mix of talks by WHO policy makers about global recommendations; concerning microbiological and clinical prevalence, and regarding different methods used to gauge the prevalence of AMR. Among the talks there were also presentations that described practices that spread AMR, and the unregulated and wide use of antimicrobials for humans and animals. Listening to the talks, very quickly it became clear that development plays an important role in the spread of AMR, meaning that why AMR spreads is as a complicated multi-sectorial problem defined by absences: infrastructure, and technical skills. Issues underlying the spread of AMR that the participants identified included: not of following basic sanitation practices (such as hand wash) in some hospitals and health care centres; expectations for rapid recovery by people that leads to the use of pharmaceuticals without prescription; low awareness of antibiotics among pharmacists and health care practitioners; unavailability or imprecision in diagnostic tests; weak collaboration between different government sectors; absence of regulation for animal antibiotic use; over-medication with antibiotics both as treatment and as prophylaxis for both humans and animals; absence of AMR surveillance structures nationally and regionally; disconnect between researchers and policy makers and practitioners; the list goes on… These challenges provide some explanations for why Africa has the highest number of AMR related deaths in the world. Clearly, there is much scope for social sciences to emphasize that AMR is not merely a biological condition but that the practices that drive its spread are social. Biomedicine alone cannot solve this multi-faceted issue.
Charlotte Brives, Matthäus Rest and I organised a panel at the 17th STS conference in Graz. The panel, entitled Microbial Living in the time of Antimicrobial Resistance, included four great papers. All of them were based on new or established fieldwork of various multi-species encounters including microbes with various analytical foci: viruses, fermentation with bacteria and yeasts, faeces, and alternatives to antibiotics, as well as the practices by scientific groups researching them and communities using microbes to e.g. ferment and store foods.
Based on his work with the Heirloom Microbes, Matthäus Rest presented on Jordan’s vanishing dairying cultures, or: How to build a culture bank?
Charlotte Brives’s paper concerned her long terms work on Bacteriophages and living in the ruins of antibiotics.
Andie Thompson presented on the Black queen hypothesis in locating resistace.
My paper, co-authored with Elina Oinas, described encounters between different species during a vaccine trial in Benin.