Ecohealth Research Meeting(FY2019-04)
“Multispecies health: multispecies thinking as a response to conceptual challenges of recent microbiome insights”

Date & Hours: Thursday, June 20, 2019, 15:00 - 17:00
Venue: Seminar Room 1&2, RIHN ( →Access)
Preseanter: Dr. RUPPRECHT, Christoph, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature
Commentator: Prof. MOJI Kazuhiko, Nagasaki University
Language: English & Japanese
Abstract: This talk examines what implications recent advances in microbiome research have for our understanding of the relationship between humans and nature. Starting with a brief historical overview of Western medicine, the conceptual move in medicine from vitalism to the metaphor of the human body as a machine is discussed as a part of a larger shift to reductionism — a view, also found in ecology, of the natural world as comprised of mechanical systems which can be understood, manipulated to produce predicted outcomes, and thus eventually controlled. Insights from cybernetics are used to show why such attempts to control are fundamentally unviable, as they are unable to cope with the nested layers of complexity uncovered in recent ecological and medical research. Several examples demonstrate how this understanding is linked to the development of new hypotheses (e.g. hygiene hypothesis and its derivatives), and to the implications of a porous human body with less clear boundaries to its environment. In response to this challenge to dualist ontologies, multispecies thinking is proposed as a relational approach that acknowledges the interconnectedness and inseparability of humans and other life forms. Finally, concrete examples as well as potential future avenues of research are examined to explore what conceptual and practical implications multispecies thinking has for human and non-human health.
Contact: Hongwei Jiang E-mail