Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationWashington U.
Grant numberGr. 9557
Approve DateOctober 11, 2017
Project TitleRynkiewich, Katharina R., Washington U., St. Louis, MO - To aid research on 'The Perils of Resistance: Antibiotic Stewards and Biosecuritization in North American Hospitals,' supervised by Dr. Bradley P. Stoner
Antibiotic resistance poses a growing threat in multiple domains including ecology, animal husbandry, and medical practice (Barrett et al. 1998; Barrett and Armelagos 2013). This study centers on the treatment of infection in two adjacent North American hospitals. In an era where the rise of ‘superbugs’ suggests the start of a ‘post-antimicrobial era’ (Cohen 1992), antibiotics are now conceptualized as precious resources to be reserved and used cautiously. New regulations in the United States focus on antimicrobial stewardship, or policies aimed at making physicians the guardians of antibiotics. I plan to investigate a broader national security affect (Masco 2014) leaning on bioinsecurities (Chen and Sharp 2015) in the form of national infectious disease policy filtering down to the everyday practices involved in treating infected patients. I ask: at the intersection of the public fear of ‘superbugs’ and biomedical regimes of care, what moral tensions arise and what calculations are involved in the everyday practices of hospital-based physicians caring for infected patients? In order to be at the site of enacted antimicrobial stewardship, I will spend 12 months at two adjacent urban Midwestern medical institutions. I will conduct participant observation, interviews, and archival analysis, delving into the professional practices and policies that center on and form the futures of antibiotic resistance in the United States. This project will contribute to the field of anthropology by developing key themes relating to the study of stewardship, national security affects and institutional practices.