Entanglements in health and wellbeing: working with model organisms in biomedicine and bioscience

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JournalMedical Anthropology Quarterly
DateAccepted/In press - 23 Jun 2018
DateE-pub ahead of print - 27 Feb 2019
DatePublished (current) - 1 Mar 2019
Issue number1
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)120-137
Early online date27/02/19
Original languageEnglish


Drawing on collaborative ethnographic fieldwork, this article explores how human health becomes entangled with that of model organisms in day-to-day biomedical science. Social science scholarship on modelling has explored either how specific models impact and shape our knowledge of human disease or how animal technicians and scientists affect laboratory animals. This paper extends this relational approach by asking how embodied and institutional care practices for model organisms affect the health and wellbeing of animal technicians and scientists. We focus on two interspecies bodily experiences: ‘pathogenic exchange’ and ‘stress’. We then explore ‘enrichment’ as a strategy for producing health and wellbeing across species. We suggest that relations of care form a crucial part of biomedical knowledge production. Not only does care figure in the shaping of model organisms; care for technicians and scientists also plays a role in bioscientific knowledge production. We conclude by proposing an interspecies approach to occupational health.

Bibliographical note

© 2019 The Authors

    Research areas

  • care, interspecies occupational health, laboratory animals, model organisms

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