Re-imagining antimicrobial resistance: beyond the military metaphor

Year of award: 2019


  • Iona Walker

    University of Edinburgh

Project summary

The rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has meant that antibiotics, which are vital to the success of modern medicine, are becoming less effective. By 2050, this could cause up to 10 million deaths each year. The AMR discourse often invokes militaristic language and metaphors to provoke a response to the problem. 

I will explore how we can reimagine our relationship with the microbial world through art at a time when some microbes are 'visible' but beyond human control. I will use ethnography to explore microbiology labs and a community of bioartists in Edinburgh. I will use a multispecies approach to ethnography, using the concept of ‘the abject’ and Freud’s ‘uncanny’ to guide my investigation. 

This research will contribute to a wider interdisciplinary discourse about AMR, including strategies to engage people with important public health messages as well as advancing new paradigms to think about health, the microbiome and infection control.