Teaching with microbes: Lessons from fermentation during a pandemic

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1 Scopus citations


The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic introduced unique challenges to teaching at the university level, while also heightening awareness of existing social and health disparities as these shaped interactions and influenced learning outcomes in class settings. Based on ethnographic and autoethnographic data, this article reflects on teaching about human-microbial relations in the context of the course "Anthropology of Food"and specifically at the start of the pandemic. Data demonstrate how students shifted from demystifying microbes to distrusting microbes to reacquainting with microbes through a hands-on experiment with fermentation. The article introduces a microbiopolitical perspective in interpreting students' learning trajectories and ultimate course outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00566-21
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2021


  • Anthropology of food
  • Biopolitics
  • Fermentation
  • Human microbial relations
  • Microbiopolitics
  • Pandemic
  • Pedagogy
  • Social equity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Computer Science Applications


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