Oxford Interdisciplinary Microbiome Project
Funded under the 'Expertise and Knowledge', and 'Uncertainty and Risk' themes.
The microbiome has emerged as domain of scientific research with significant implications for how we understand health, the environment, and the position and role of humans in the world at large. Our ability to map previously invisible forms of microbial life in, on, and around us is leading to a profound reconceptualization of the biological constitution of the world, and of the role of humans vis-a-vis other forms of life.
The Interdisciplinary Microbiome Project (IMP) aims to develop a social-scientific research agenda on the microbiome and its implications for public policy and social change. Led by researchers in Geography, Anthropology and History of Medicine, the project seeks to gather interest and expertise on the microbiome across the social sciences and the humanities at Oxford, and to create a platform for dialogue and collaboration between natural and social scientists interested in microbial communities. Research themes include:
- ‘Post-Pasteurian’ and pro-biotic forms of healthcare and environmental management;
- The distribution of the benefits, risk and responsibilities of microbiome research and subsequent interventions;
- Rethinking social connection, mobility and community as mediated by microbes;
- The ownership of microbial data and microbial life forms;
- Conceptualizations of human specificity after the microbial turn;
- New communities of microbial expertise and DIY microbiome interventions.
The project will start in October 2016 with the preparation and coordination of activity planning and will formally launch in January 2017. The IMP will sponsor a range of seminars and public activities on the microbiome over the following year.