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Message posted on 12/01/2018

CfP: Microbial living in the time of antimicrobial resistance, STS conference, Graz, 7-8 May 2018

Call for Papers for the panel: "Microbial living in the time of antimicrobial

at the 17th Annual STS conference, 7-8 May 2018, Graz, Austria

Submission deadline: 19 January 2018

Salla SARIOLA (University of Turku) Finland; Matthäus REST (Max Planck
Institute for the Science of Human History), Germany; Charlotte BRIVES (Centre
Emile Durkheim, Université de Bordeaux), France

This panel explores new social forms generated by the global increase of
antimicrobial resistance (AMR). While antibiotics are increasingly becoming
redundant due to drug resistance, modern medicine is at the risk of being
turned back by a century. As a response of this threat, various new social
forms are emerging. These include new biotechnological solutions:
super-antibiotics, vaccines and bacteriophages against drug resistant
microbes; regulatory structures that enable their research; ensembles of
funding structures between start-ups and universities; as well as social
groups working towards living with bacteria, rather than against them. The
panel conceptualises the new social forms to include post-human assemblages
and their more-than-human agency. In this era, we argue, it is vital to gain a
more granular view of the various practices of relation-making between humans,
animals and microbes, and how they are affected by the threat and reality of
antibiotics and AMR. Taking cue from Foucault’s notion of biopolitics
(1978), Paxson (2008) has conceptualised the encounters of microbes, humans
and politics as ‘micro-biopolitical’, keeping domains of microbes, power
and governance squarely in view. While empirical and ethnographic examples of
such co-existence are sparse, the possibility of studying pathogens in social
sciences has encouraged Lorimer to argue that our disciplines are undergoing a
‘probiotic turn’ (Lorimer, 2017). What does micro-biopolitics look like in
the context of increasing antimicrobial resistance? This panel is interested
in post-human assemblages of microbial living, in the context of AMR. Topics
could include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Studies of novel biotechnologies to seek alternatives to antibiotics
- Biographies of antibiotics and diagnostics and the pharmaceutical industry
and other R&D endeavours
- How particular subjects and nations are constructed as global health targets
of AMR related activities, policies and research
- How are resistomes and microbiotas explored and compared?
- Use of antibiotics in food production and managing life-stock, and the
so-called one-health approach to the study of AMR
- How are antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance affecting the human-microbe
relations in fields like fermentation?
- How boundaries of bodies are made

KEYWORDS: microbiopolitics, antimicrobial resistance, living with microbes

To submit an abstract please go to


Matthäus Rest

Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History
Kahlaische Straße 10
07745 Jena

+49 3641 686-692
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