Probiotic Biopower: Rewilding with Wolves and Worms

By Jamie Lorimer

Wageningen Geography Lectures 2016 - 2017

A probiotic turn is underway in the management of human and environmental health. Widespread anxieties about the pathologies of modern forms of biopower inform deliberate interventions to introduce formerly taboo entities into our bodies, homes, cities and the wider countryside. This lecture critically evaluates this turn, drawing on illustrative examples of rewilding in the ‘macro’ biome and reworming in the microbiome. It identifies components of a common ontology and traces the operation of an ‘environmental’ mode of biopower (after Foucault 2010) – associated with deliberate efforts to engineer ecologies through the introduction of keystone species. The analysis offers criteria for critically evaluating the political ecologies of these interventions. It reflects on the potential of probiotic environmentalities for developing hospitable forms of government for, and beyond, the Anthropocene.

Organised by Cultural Geography

Tue 7 March 2017 16:00 to 17:30

Venue Lumen, building number 100
Room 1

His current research focuses on the microbiome - the invisible life in, on and around us. In the project ‘Good germs, Bad germs’ he develops together with microbiologists a participatory model for mapping the domestic microbiome. This project aims to take the science of metagenomics out of the lab to allow members of the public to visualize and experiment upon the life in their kitchens. In other work on the microbiome, Jamie is exploring the emergence of pro-biotic approaches to managing human and environmental health - focusing in particular on the rise of helminthic and other forms of biotherapy for tackling autoimmune and allergic disease.

In his talk he will bring together his earlier work on nature conservation and his current work on human health, and discuss these through the work of Michel Foucault on ‘biopower’.

His recent publications include:

(2016) The Anthropo-scene: A guide for the perplexed. Social Studies of Science.

(2015) Wildlife in the Anthropocene: Conservation after Nature. Minnesota University Press.