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Fermentation Lab
Salla Sariola (University of Helsinki)
Matthäus Rest (Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History)
Time zone:
Wednesday 22 July, 11:00-12:45, 14:00-15:45

Short abstract:

Fermentation is a multi-species entanglement. Historically, it has been the most important food preservation technology but with industrialisation, fermentation collectives are rapidly disappearing. In this laboratory we will try out fermentation and discuss its history and future.

Long abstract:

Fermentation is a practice in which humans, animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria meet and thrive. It is the quintessential multi-species entanglement and provides a unique vantage point to engage and connect with recent debates in anthropology and beyond. Today, many multi-species collectives that have been fermenting together, often in an unbroken chain for hundreds of human (and millions of microbial) generations, are under a threat of extinction. Main reason for this is the industrialization and standardization of agriculture and food processing. The global decline of small-scale agriculture results in the replacement of a multiplicity of peasant lifeforms with a much less diverse set of industrially bred organisms. Our laboratory aims to show participants how to ferment with lactic acid bacteria and yeasts in their own kitchen. We will make cheese and bread, show participants how to prepare their own probiotic dairy products through back-slopping and talk about the history and present of peasant fermentation. Finally, we will address the question of how to continue to live with these companion species that have sustained humans for millennia. With the online move of the conference we ask participants to show us their own kitchens and fermented products. Please sign up for the workshop here: If you have additional questions, please get in touch via