Microbiomes as companion species: an exploration of dis- and re-entanglements with the microbial self

Alice Beck*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Abstract

Research within the natural sciences is increasingly revealing the importance that microbial life has for human functioning. Referred to as the microbiome, the unique selection of microbial life that harbours inside the body affects human behaviours. This paper contrasts the more simplistic practices and imaginations associated with ‘good’ and ‘bad’ microbes with the more nuanced perspective offered by research with FMT users and explores what these sources say of a human microbe relationship. Through an engagement with Haraway’s concept of companion species this paper first explores how a good/bad binary of microbial life is reproduced through cleaning, probiotic advertising and the technologies of antibiotics. It points to the consequent warping of the complexities of microbial life through such representations. It then engages with FMT users’ experiences of FMT to develop Haraway’s concept of embodied communication to corporeal communication, which describes a mode of relating between FMT users and their microbiomes. The paper then offers corporeal communication as an alternative conceptual tool that can be used by those that have not undergone FMT to better understand and appreciate the microbial self.

Original languageSpanish
Number of pages19
JournalSocial and Cultural Geography
Early online date21 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Mar 2019

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Keywords

  • companion species
  • Faecal microbiota transplantation
  • microbiome
  • microbiopolitics

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