Sustaining (dis)embodied inequalities in the(ir) Eurocene: ancient microbes, racial anthropometry, and lifestyle choices

Núñez Casal, Andrea and de Lima Hutchison, Coll. 2022. Sustaining (dis)embodied inequalities in the(ir) Eurocene: ancient microbes, racial anthropometry, and lifestyle choices. Medicine Anthropology Theory, ISSN 2405-691X [Article] (Forthcoming)

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Abstract or Description

Racialisation and colonialism are central to sustaining (dis)embodied inequalities. We draw together our distinct ethnographic projects on a microbiome expedition with Amazonian indigenous non/human communities and on medical professionals' encounters with Mbya Guarani communities in the Atlantic Forest region. Firstly, to show how through comparing and intervening on Mbya bodies and their forms of life, both anthropometric growth standards and state development projects, perpetuate racialised assumptions of human difference and legitimate colonial extractive practices (e.g., conversion of forests to ‘productive’ agricultural land). Similarly, human microbiome scientific initiatives, rather than addressing such racialised (dis)embodied inequalities and extractive practices, contribute to ‘updating’ and potentially amplifying them further through identifying indigenous peoples as western industrialised people’s ancestors and as potential reservoirs for novel probiotics to restore microbes to industrialised societies' guts. Finally, we propose that part of ceasing to reproduce these (dis)embodied inequalities requires ‘us’ to challenge the racialised and colonial histories of the life and geological sciences, to recognise their embodied consequences in the present, as well as how they are implicated in emergent proposals for new geological ‘-cenes’.

Item Type:



probiotics, nutrition, diet, anthropocene, microbiome

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies


May 2022Accepted

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

27 Jan 2023 14:35

Last Modified:

27 Jan 2023 20:49

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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