Local microbiologies of tuberculosis: Insights from the Republic of Georgia

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20 Scopus citations


The perspective of local microbiologies brings attributes of microbes squarely into the anthropological purview, underscoring dialectics of biology and culture in which infectious diseases-and knowledge and practices about them-are produced. In this article I provide an anthropological perspective of expert discourses about tuberculosis at a tuberculosis reference laboratory in Tbilisi, Georgia. A latent-active dichotomy prevails in contemporary global health responses to tuberculosis. Based on ethnographic research about everyday laboratory-based diagnostic work, I question the stability of this dichotomy and unsettle biological and cultural reductionism. In so doing, I highlight the theoretical and methodological contributions that anthropological engagements with science, technology, and medicine bring to studies of global health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-101
Number of pages21
JournalMedical Anthropology: Cross Cultural Studies in Health and Illness
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I am deeply indebted to friends and colleagues at the National TB Program in Georgia who made my research possible. The research on which this article is based was supported by a Dissertation Improvement Grant from the Science and Technology Studies Program of the National Science Foundation; the Eurasia Program of the Social Science Research Council, with funds provided by the US Department of State through the Title VIII Program; the Graduate Faculty of Political and Social Science at the New School for Social Research; and the University of Kentucky. Portions of this article were presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association (2007), the annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology (2009), and at a conference for the Society of Medical Anthropology (2009). I am grateful to Lenore Manderson and Victoria Team for their editorial expertise and to the anonymous reviewers for Medical Anthropology for their astute suggestions and comments. For their generous assistance with versions of this paper I thank Anne Galvin, Suzanne Simon, Sarah Lyon, Cristina Alcalde, Karen-Sue Taussig, Matthew Wolf-Meyer, Paul Manning, Kristin Bright, Vincanne Adams, Emily Burrill, Lucinda Ramberg, Srimati Basu, and Jonathan Stillo.


  • Georgia
  • Global health
  • Microbes
  • Tuberculosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology


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