donderdag 16 mei 2013

Bacteria as material culture

In a paper published in April 2012 Benezra, DStefano and Gordon argue for the foundation of an 'Anthropology of microbes'. Taking a step further from a) the notion that we humans are really a symbiotic supraorganism of humans and microbes and b) that this synthesis bring about "intra- and interpersonal variation of these species and gene assemblages as a function of body habitat, age, physiologic status, and family relationships." The insight that results is the idea that microbial variation is another facet of what informs/creates kinship and culture. Qoute: 
Our microbial communities provide snapshots of those with whom we have lived, the diversity of our daily habits, as well as the impact of our changing lifestyles. For example, our guts are homes to our largest collection of microbes, where the number of microbial cells is measured in terms of tens of trillions. Gut microbial communities in humans are shared among family members and underscore the long-lasting impact of our interpersonal relationships. Common as well as distinct features in gut communities are being documented among populations representing varied “cultural traditions” and geographical locations. The breathtaking rate of change in food availability and preparation methods, the expansive movement of human populations, the rapid proliferation of technology, and the ubiquitous use of antibiotics emphasize the importance of studying the microbiological heritage of humans, just as we study our genetic, linguistic, and cultural heritages.
 The BacterioSphere has no loose ends.

2 opmerkingen:

  1. I actually found social fiction when searching images of bacteria. Your Bacteriopoetics blew my mind. I've been following your blogs ever since.

  2. Yesterday we took a delivery of c.10 tonnes of compost, courtesy of London Waste, to help enrich the soil of our allotment. The compost is made from the domestic food and garden waste of North/North east London residents. The 10 tonnes of compost formed a large pile and the heat which radiated from the pile was astonishing - and more so considering the source of that heat are the myriad bacteria breaking down the organic material. It was difficult to stand on the pile and shovel the stuff into wheelbarrows so vaporous was the decomposing material. It seems to me the study of municipal composting could be a useful complement or adjunct to the anthropology of microbes; a bacterial study of food which has been discarded or wasted. The stench from the pile, in a state of thermophilic (bacterial) decomposition I think

    was so intense, that, passers-by gagged, held their noses and hurried on while emitting squeals of disgust. Their disgust was perhaps at the rank nature of our collective modern metropolitan European diet - representative of a predominant food and microbial culture.

    I hope this is a useful comment.

    Field Study's Man in E17