Politics

Microbes generate political activity in the modern sense of the word: global and national policy are the result of constant political negotiation among authorities and institutions that that is key in directing health interventions, scientific research, the regulation of professional sector, and public communication campaigns. However, attending to the politics of microbes demands a wider understanding of the notion, paying attention to how those policies intertwine with lay understandings and affect citizens and professionals. Following, listening and understanding the everyday lives of the many relevant collectives that interact daily with microbes is a key aspect of researching microbes as a prominent social actors. Policymakers, citizens, scientists, medical doctors, nurses, patients, breeders, and veterinarians engage politically with microbes and each other since that interaction requires constant negotiation that bring together often-differing visions, both material and in terms of producing meanings that allow them to understand the world in which those interactions take place. From a research perspective, it is important to pay heed to those negotiations as they reveal the sites where definitions of microbes and their activities are unstable and “up for grabs”. In such cases, usually the most powerful actors have a bigger say, which brings us back to the beginning: while political institutions have a key role in defining issues related to microbes, it is in the material and discursive dimensions of everyday life human-microbial entanglements that politics stand out the most.