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Lectures

The politics of Amphibiosis: the war against viruses will not take place

This article is part of the following series:

“We are at war.” This was Emmanuel Macron’s chosen refrain when he addressed the French nation about the current COVID-19 pandemic. He is certainly not the first to present human/pathogenic microbe relations in this way. Indeed, the history of immunology and epidemiology is littered with the vocabulary of war. But this presidential rhetoric reveals a certain communication strategy based on …

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Features

Life/NonLife Revived

Earthquakes. Taxidermy. Ghosts. Climate Change. These phenomena, some exceptional and some quotidian, all challenge the stability and salience of ‘life’ as an ethnographic category.  Lacking empirical traction and heuristic power, the distinction between life and nonlife is one that anthropology needs to discard.

This was the motion for a debate that closed the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Association of …

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Books

Stomachaches

Where is the gut? A corporeal and metaphorical space, our gut is the suggestion of invisible viscera, our most sensitive internal self— soft and vulnerable, near the surface, and barely covered by muscle and skin. The gut is where the outside world comes in, and where the inside threatens to come out. Spill your guts. Gut idioms range from …

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Features

Bleach

My friend Dr. Muñoz makes his own bleach.  He uses salt, water, and electrodes to render sodium hypochlorite.  To do this, he has colonized a small space in a garage-cum-storage unit nestled on the grounds of the Managua health center where he works.  His bleach-making is ad-hoc and off the books.  Dr. Muñoz doesn’t get extra money or time from …

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Features

Petri Dish

The petri dish was made for separation.  It was developed for culturing microorganisms while separating them from airborne contaminates.  As part of its ability to make separations between the contaminated world outside and the uncontaminated world inside, the dish also assisted in separating individuals from disease.  These days, it’s getting harder for petri dishes to maintain these separations.

Julius Richard …

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Web Roundups

Web Roundup: The Gut Microbiome and our Bacterial Selves

Attempts at understanding the true nature our innermost selves has long been a human preoccupation. Are our inner worlds populated with repressed memories and persistent neuroses? Or perhaps our genes direct and define us even as they hide in the interior spaces of our interior spaces? Well, now there is a new contender in the hidden constitution of human selfhood: …

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