HumanThrush Entanglements: Homo sapiens as a multi-species ecology

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    A normal human body is thought to be composed of over one trillion cells, of which only about 10 percent are animal (i.e. human), some of which have been shown to "profoundly influence" human metabolism and physiology. How do we understand human subjectivity and identity in this cacophony if, as Donna Haraway suggests, "to be one is always to become with many?" This paper explores what it means to be human when we recognise our bodies as a multi-species ecology. It adopts Haraway's analytical methodology of the string game Cat's Cradle. This paper is like a string figure such as "The Circle" (Figure 1) which attempts to form patterns, knots and webs to untangle and reform the complex cultural discourses, subject positions and knowledge claims evident in human relations with our bodies and the other species that inhabit them. Haraway suggests that since a "cradle belongs to no one, to no 'one' culture or self, to no frozen subject or object", it offers the potential to "learn something about how worlds get made and unmade, and for whom".5 The knotted web initiated in this paper forms from the intimate and fraught contact zones of biology, aesthetics, culture and care between Homo sapiens (humans) and Candida albicans (Candida), the single-celled opportunistic fungal pathogen commonly known as thrush. Be warned: this discussion positions humans and thrush as co-evolved companion species involved in a biopolitical entanglement that is gendered, sexual and often ruthless.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)36-45
    JournalPhilosophy, Activism, Nature
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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