Alex Nading is an anthropologist of science, medicine, and the environment. His research and publications examine participatory mosquito control programs for dengue fever prevention in low-income urban Nicaragua; the production and field-testing of genetically sterilized dengue mosquitoes and genetically engineered dengue vaccines; and the social production of the "human microbiome" in greater Managua. He is currently Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Franklin & Marshall College (Pennsylvania, USA).
Dr. Nading is completing a book, Mosquito Trails: Ecology, Health, and the Politics of Entanglement in Nicaragua (under contract with University of California Press). The book profiles a group of community health workers who led house-by-house mosquito control campaigns, in a low-income city just north of Managua. He has also published articles in Cultural Anthropology, Medical Anthropology Quarterly, and Environment and Society.
Arrival : 15/09/2013
Scientific project : An Anthropology of Micro-Transfers: Microbes and Relational Bodies in Urban Nicaragua
Dr. Nading is working on the first stages of a long-term ethnographic analysis of the changing place of the microbiome—the bacteria and other creatures that live in human bodies—in global health. Long seen only as agents of disease, microbes are now recognized as potentially powerful new medical tools. Such claims to novelty elide the longstanding complexity of human-microbe relations in Nicaragua. Nading’s research situates these relations within both histories of health intervention that couched “germs” as enemies, and more recent attempts to cultivate microbiodiversity to prevent disease. He is studying how the artisanal production of fermented foods, which are staples of the Nicaraguan diet, clashes with an insistence among public health authorities on “sanitary” diets consisting of processed foods. He is also tracing the interface between formal pharmaceutical distribution networks and the informal trade of antibiotic drugs. The work asks how everyday practices of care blur the lines between landscapes and bodies. The regulation of microbes creates not just disciplined, “sanitary citizens” but novel forms of moral engagement.