Wars and Sweets: Microbes, Medicines and other Moderns in and Beyond the(ir) Antibiotic Era

Article Summary by Coll de Lima Hutchison

Covid-19 mask amidst yellow petals on road in northern Thailand. Coll Hutchison (2022).

My article brings together diverse literatures in a playful manner to plot rises in antimicrobial resistance, COVID-19 and our warlike responses (e.g. increased surveillance of microbes, more rational disciplined subjects and increasing our antibiotic armentarium) to them, alongside other acts of ‘real’ war. It speculates that modern war is not only metaphorically, but also materially central to modern medicine, the antibiotic era and increasing antimicrobial resistance. I hope at the very least it leaves you with some relevant literature to follow up and if I’m blessed, some critically political questions that you can join me (and many others) in exploring. For example, Who are the ‘we’ who has known modern medicine and fears its end?


Read the full article on the Medical Humanities journal website.


Coll passes some of his time researching microbes, antimicrobials and their associated humans, particularly those who consider themselves ‘modern’. Currently, he is exploring their various motivations and means of ‘fighting’ against antimicrobial resistance and viral invasions, as well as their searches for probiotic salvation. He is also interested in health governance and socioecological transformation beyond state and market actors, especially those involving food and dance. Coll is an honorary fellow at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a founding member of Kṣobha; a wee collective, fermenting together to nourish and support possibilities of greater collective, embodied care and more-than-human healing.

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