Joyce Sauann Lu

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Rutgers U.

Grant number

Gr. 10524

Approve Date

April 6, 2023

Project Title

Lu, Joyce (Rutgers U.) "“Se embolsan los animalitos:” the changing biosocial life of antibiotics in the western highlands of Guatemala"

My research proposes to examine the changing biosocial life of antibiotics in Guatemala in the context of the emerging global health threat of antimicrobial resistance. I will follow therapeutic economies of antibiotic use amongst K’iche’ Maya communities in the Palajunoj Valley of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, a region that has attracted local and foreign researchers to study epidemiological trends in community-acquired bacterial resistance. How are antibiotics valued, used, and circulated in practices of care in Palajunoj? What are local understandings of what it means for antibiotics to be ineffective, or for one to ‘have resistance (tener resistencia)’, and how do these understandings alter the value of antibiotics? How are these economies and lived experiences of antibiotics shaped by global and national public health policies, research agendas, and pharmaceutical regulations? I will pursue these research questions through ethnographic methods of participant observation with pharmaceutical vendors and interviews with residents, public health officials, and antimicrobial resistance researchers in Palajunoj. This project seeks to follow how the value of antibiotics emerges in relation to local biologies, therapeutic economies, and multispecies encounters between humans and microbes.