What about the social aspect of AMR?
This week has been a fantastic week of learning for me, about the fantastic research colleagues are doing around the globe relating to the topic of AMR. Last Monday 10th September we brought together over 100 social researchers studying AMR at the British Academy, London, to a symposium to present and discuss Fresh Approaches to the Study of Antimicrobial Resistance. It was a terrific event, with a wide range of approaches and findings presented – from an anthropological paper describing the ways antibiotics link to religion in performing what it is to be a good Muslim in Indonesia by Artricia Marina Rasyid to a linguistics paper showing how language used in the media informs and reinforces particular inflections in our understanding of AMR by Luke Collins, to the history of ‘pharming animals‘ by Claas Kirchhelle. It was particularly exciting to have the chance to engage with scholars from other parts of the world – 40 from outside of the UK, including 4 countries in Africa, 4 in Asia, 6 in Europe as well as from Australia and the United States. You can follow along on our #SocSciAMR twitter hashtag.
Following the symposium, I had the pleasure of spending the week with colleagues from Thailand and Uganda on our Anti-Microbials In Society annual meeting. As our work progresses, it has been fascinating to hear about the field sites and emerging findings of the ways antibiotics are entwined – and resisted – in the ways our societies and economies are working around the world. We have heard about the resistance to antibiotics of genetically modified pigs; the ways antibiotics form part of the chemosphere of orange orchards; the symmetry of the flow of faeces from elite to informal residents and the flow of cheap labour in the other direction; the opening of antibiotic capsules for bedsores in the elderly; the connection of antibiotics to tourism; the entanglement of antibiotics in the intensification of farming for scaling up production of animal protein, and many more insights from the field.
As well as learning new insights into the issues of AMR and AMU, the past week has provoked much consideration of how we generate these insights. Of particular focus has been the concept of co-production: we generate our data together with a range of others – residents, farmers, vets, doctors, scientists – who often better fit the role of collaborator than informant, as we develop our understandings of phenomena together. I am excited to see how these many projects showcased at the symposium and within the AMIS projects will develop and anticipate innovative and profound impacts for the way we address AMR in the future.