Resetting urban human-microbial relations in pandemic times

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Microbes, particularly of the viral kind, are currently preoccupying human activity and concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although for a long time there has been fear associated with ‘germs’, notably viruses and bacteria and the diseases they cause, the pandemic has set these fears into overdrive. As serious as this ongoing event is, there are broader interests and important alternative narratives about the microbial world permeating current thinking, based on research that intersects with and includes biopolitical and relational research in geography. In an attempt at balancing the prevailingly negative discourses about microbes and the potential harms they can cause, and to encourage more geographers to contribute to understanding human-microbial relations, this paper draws together recent research across disciplines to discuss the prevalence and role of microbes in environments and in and on human bodies. Drawing on ideas of more-than-human care, the paper shows how geographers and other social scientists can and are already helping reset human-microbial relations, and where further work can productively be done.




Maller, C. J. (2023). Resetting urban human-microbial relations in pandemic times. Geography Compass, 17(3).

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