Biosecuritisation of the self: Microbiomes in geographies of health

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Geographical Sciences


The Microbial world is fast replacing neurological research in finding answers to
questions of the body and more (Yong 2016). Invisible to the naked eye,
understandings of the Microbiome are created by representations in scientific and
commercial spaces that influence both perceptions and behaviors. Translated as
'germs', the Microbiome is connected to a misleading moral economy that represents
microbes under a dichotomy of 'good' and bad', warping both the complexity and
interdependency of the Microbiome (Lorimer 2016). Practices that attempt to avoid
'germs' also known as biosecurity, posits health as spatially constructed, creating
boundaries and boarders to separate 'good' from 'bad', 'healthy' from 'diseased'
(Paxman 2008). Research in biosecurity and health implications reveals the increasing
attempts to control 'germs' in order to keep 'safe', yet the literature remains largely on
farming and at industry level rather than focused on the body (Hincliffe 2013).

The aims of this research intend to highlight that representations establish the identity
of the Microbiome. The research will explore how these representations are made both
materially and discursively; looking at what consequences these have for notions and
practices of health.
Research questions;
How is the microbe made materially and discursively through varying
What consequences do representations of the Microbiome have for intervention
and action of individual biosecurity practices?
How do representations of the Microbiome shape notions of health and health
practices subjectively, what implications do these have for global health?
Can interacting with the Microbiome through alternative and creative practices
effectively alter dominant perceptions of microbial life?


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1926032 Studentship ES/P000630/1 01/10/2017 16/04/2021 Alice Isabella Jewitt Beck