Local microbiologies of tuberculosis: insights from the Republic of Georgia

Med Anthropol. 2011 Jan;30(1):81-101. doi: 10.1080/01459740.2010.531064.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Disease Management
  • Georgia (Republic) / epidemiology
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis*
  • Tuberculosis / epidemiology
  • Tuberculosis / microbiology*