Teaching with microbes: Biopolitical lessons from fermentation.
Dr. Megan Carney
March 17, 2021, 12:00 – 13:00 EST.
About the speaker: Megan A. Carney is a sociocultural and medical anthropologist with specializations in migration and health, food insecurity, and the politics of care. She is Assistant an Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for Regional Food Studies at the University of Arizona.
She is the author of two books, the award-winning “The Unending Hunger: Tracing Women and Food Insecurity Across Borders” (2015, University of California Press) and “Island of Hope: Migration and Solidarity in the Mediterranean” (forthcoming, University of California Press). She is the recent recipient of a Fulbright Schuman Faculty Award and was previously a Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project. Some of her public writing has appeared in Civil Eats, Scientific American, The Hill, Sapiens, and The Conversation.
About the seminar: For the past several years and with emerging research on microbiomes, social scientists and humanities scholars have increasingly turned to microbes as “good to think with” in examining the intersections between human health and the environment. The Covid-19 pandemic has both amplified much of this transdisciplinary interest in microbial life and human microbiomes, and sparked new questions about the (micro)biopolitics shaping uneven health outcomes across the human life course. This talk reflects on using fermentation as a pedagogical tool for understanding the historical conditions and contemporary social and institutional arrangements that affect microbial distribution and exposure.
About the series: Microorganisms are critical to many aspects of biological life, including human health. The human body is a veritable universe for microorganisms: some pass through but once, some are frequent tourists, and some spend their entire existence in the confines of our body tissues. The collective microbial community, our microbiome, can be impacted by the details of our lifestyle, including diet, hygiene, health status, and more, but many are driven by social, economic, medical, or political constraints that restrict available choices that may impact our health.
Access to resources is the basis for creating and resolving social equity—access to healthcare, healthy foods, a suitable living environment, and to beneficial microorganisms, but also access to personal and occupational protection to avoid exposure to infectious disease. This speaker series explores the way that microbes connect public policy, social disparities, and human health, as well as the ongoing research, education, policy, and innovation in this field. The spring speaker series will pave the way for a symposium on “Microbes, Social Equity, and Rural Health” in summer 2021.