BEYOND RESISTANCE Colloquium – Re-imagining AMR: borders, boundaries and beyond the human
– Iona Walker – The University of Edinburgh
“It has been said that good fences make good neighbours. But what happens when neighbours are intertwined so closely with us that they constitute our very body. In the ‘post-antibiotic era’ how can we locate, create and understand bodily boundaries, navigate borders at micro and macro level and incorporate non-humans to live microbially entangled lives. Work on microbiomes, global public health, historical narratives, climate change, One Health, immigration, alternative antibiotic therapies, economics and diagnostics amongst a host of others all attempt to answer these questions. We invite voices from and between these perspectives – especially those which are often missing from mainstream discourse. What are the assumptions, agendas and asymmetries involved in this work and how can a critical multidisciplinary approach work to dissolve, create and enable new kinds of fences for a post antibiotic world?”
The colloquium was held by the BEYOND RESISTANCE Network on the 10th of January 2020 at the University of Edinburgh, organised by Iona Walker of the Edinburgh Centre for Medical Anthropology (EdCMA) and generously supported by EdCMA and Edinburgh Infectious Diseases (EID). This year’s theme ‘Re-imagining AMR: borders, boundaries and beyond the human’ builds on the previous BEYOND RESISTANCE colloquium which identified this as a key area for interdisciplinary engagement.
A keynote from artist Dr Louise Mackenzie began the day reflecting on her work with e.coli as lively material, manifesting in works that explore themes of production, waste, the posthuman and nonhuman (Mackenzie, 2020). From there we reflected on the provocation in ‘pods’ before joining a group discussion. Key themes which emerged included: navigating vulnerability in patient experience, how AMR encourages us to reflect on our ecological obligations in light of climate emergency, the porous or leaky body, reimagining the institution for interdisciplinary work and finally our microbial imagination and what implications this has for medicine and politics. A full report is intended for publication in the coming months.