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Pandemic imaginaries of interspecies relatedness: More-than-human microbial methods on the bus

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Charlotte Veal



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


The study of human-non-human relations, within a conceptual framework that decentres human exceptionalism (Menon and Karthik 2017) and challenges the nature-society separation with its legacy of presenting the natural world as somehow ‘out there’, has gained traction within the social sciences and humanities (Busher 2022; Greco, 2022; Haraway, 2016; Whatmore 2006, 2017). This body of work has started to reconceive ecological politics through mapping out how humans are situated in complex social relations with biological and physical worlds. Lively discussions have ensued, foregrounding multispecies geographies (Gillespie and Collard, 2017), vitalist ecologies (Bennett 2010; Braun 2015), and post-humanist theorising of more-than-human entanglements (Anderson 2014; Wolfe 2010). Within this field, the study of human-non-human relations has been dominated by well-established cultural interest areas, for example animals, foodstuff, and plants. There is also work that engages with non-human aspects of planetary life that is harder to grapple with due to the temporality, spatiality, and inhuman materiality of multispecies worlds, such as the geological (Clark and Yusoff 2017). Social studies of the microbial sit between these points of human-non-human scholarship. Viruses, bacteria, archaea, fungi, and protists are methodologically trickier to study within social relations as they are challenging to witness as material, recognisable everyday objects in relation to human practices. And yet, the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how the very real threat of infection was accompanied by multifarious imaginings of microbial agency and risk that radically changed everyday life.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Veal C, Hurley P, Roe E, Wilks S

Editor(s): Cooper, F; and Fitzgerald, D

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Knowing COVID-19: The pandemic and beyond

Year: 2024

Print publication date: 21/05/2024

Acceptance date: 30/01/2023

Publisher: Manchester University Press

Place Published: Manchester


Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781526178640