Knowledge

Knowledge about microbes emerges out of social practices, whether those be scientific, domestic, activist or artisanal. This is characterised in our research projects, which are designed to generate fine-grained knowledge of human-animal-environment-microbe relations and the practices that produce them, sustain them, and/or destroy them. The knowledge we produce is underpinned by theories and methodologies developed by Science and Technology Studies (STS), new materialism, and feminist science studies. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability for microbes to acquire resistance genes to the drugs developed to control them, including antibiotics. Facing the prospect of a post-antibiotic future, biomedical research is in pursuit of novel therapies, and new global health policies try to protect critical antibiotics. Our AMR research is designed not only to produce knowledge of the social practices and sociopolitical contexts that drive antibiotic use, or which contribute to the spread and evolution of AMR, but also to examine the processes by which scientific knowledge of microbes and their control is produced, or to explore the challenges for implementing global health policy in discrete national and sectorial contexts. As the ubiquity of microbes within bodies and environments and their importance for metabolic and immune function is increasingly well understood, our research re-evaluates the nature of human-microbial relationships by exploring the emerging ecologies in and around microbes. We do this by examining and participating in interdisciplinary, artisanal and lay practices with microbes on themes of food production, fermentation, probiotic living and so forth. Through these practices, we ask how are concepts of immunity and wellbeing shifting with the prospect of a post-antibiotic future? How are the boundaries of human and nonhuman made or unmade by bacteria flowing between bodies and environments? By making knowledge collaboratively with microbes, we hope to inspire creative methods for transformation and problem-solving in the Anthropocene.