The Third Domain
Antibiotic Fermentation Tank ca. 1950
The Third Domain is an ambitious interdisciplinary project that asks how one of the most significant biological phenomena of our time – the rise of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) – came to be framed almost exclusively as a problem of human and animal health, but not as a planetary shift of the microbial biosphere. Focussing on the third – environmental – domain of the One Health triad, the project draws on a mix of written and biological source material to decentre and rewrite traditional – eukaryotic – accounts of the antibiotic era as a history of exposure, pollution, and genetic change. The project will specifically assess: (1) what impact mass antibiotic exposure had on microbial ecologies beyond centres of health care and food production; (2) why the ‘Third’ environmental domain of AMR has remained neglected in terms of antibiotic policy frameworks; (3) how thinking of AMR as an Anthropocene of the microbial cell might reframe problem definitions and policy solutions.