Microbial Resolution

Microbial Resolution

Visualization and Security in the War against Emerging Microbes

Gloria Chan-Sook Kim

Why the global health project to avert emerging microbes continually fails

256 Pages, 6 x 9 in

  • Hardcover
  • 9781517911690
  • Published: June 18, 2024
  • Series: Proximities
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  • eBook
  • 9781452971315
  • Published: June 18, 2024
  • Series: Proximities
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  • Paperback
  • 9781517911706
  • Published: June 18, 2024
  • Series: Proximities
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Details

Microbial Resolution

Visualization and Security in the War against Emerging Microbes

Series: Proximities

Gloria Chan-Sook Kim

ISBN: 9781517911690

Publication date: June 18th, 2024

256 Pages

54 black and white illustrations

8 x 5

"How can we secure ourselves against a life-form that is invisible yet omnipresent? Untouchable yet capable of remaking the planet? Gloria Chan-Sook Kim’s visual methodology proposes a clear optic for understanding how global health responses to microbial threats will fail unless we wrestle with the systems that perpetuate the conditions for the next mutant microbe on the horizon."—Stefanie R. Fishel, author of The Microbial State: Global Thriving and the Body Politic

 

"Now that we all care about microbial emergence, here is a fabulous book—researched just prior to the Covid-19 pandemic—that gives us the epistemological tools to understand it. Gloria Chan-Sook Kim’s timely study examines the scientific practices, media, and discourses that anticipate microbial populations to come, ever attentive to the visual politics of resolution."—Melody Jue, author of Wild Blue Media: Thinking through Seawater

 


Why the global health project to avert emerging microbes continually fails
 

In 1989, a group of U.S. government scientists met to discuss some surprising findings: new diseases were appearing around the world, and viruses that they thought long vanquished were resurfacing. Their appearance heralded a future perpetually threatened by unforeseeable biological risks, sparking a new concept of disease: the “emerging microbe.” With the Cold War nearing its end, American scientists and security experts turned to confront this new “enemy,” redirecting national security against its risky horizons. In order to be fought, emerging microbes first needed to be made perceptible; but how could something immaterial, unknowable, and ever mutating be coaxed into visibility, knowability, and operability?

 

Microbial Resolution charts the U.S.-led war on the emerging microbe to show how their uncertain futures were transformed into objects of global science and security. Moving beyond familiar accounts that link scientific knowledge production to optical practices of visualizing the invisible, Gloria Chan-Sook Kim develops a theory of “microbial resolution” to analyze the complex problematic that arises when dealing with these entities: what can be seen when there is nothing to see? Through a syncretic analysis of data mining, animal-tracking technologies, media networks, computer-modeled futures, and global ecologies and infrastructures, she shows how a visual impasse—the impossibility of seeing microbial futures—forms the basis for new modes of perceiving, knowing, and governing in the present.

 

Timely and thought provoking, Microbial Resolution opens up the rich paradoxes, irreconcilabilities, and failures inherent in this project and demonstrates how these tensions profoundly animate twenty-first-century epistemologies, aesthetics, affects, and ecologies.

Gloria Chan-Sook Kim is assistant professor of media and culture at the University of California, Riverside. Her work has been published in journals such as Configurations: A Journal of Literature, Science, and Technology and the Journal for Consumption, Markets, and Culture.