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Accepted Paper:

A Microscopic Gaze: Digital Ethnography of Brazilian Influencers' Perspectives on Health and Human-Microbe Relations in Eating Habits  
Stephanie Sacco (Universidade Federal da Paraíba)

Paper short abstract:

Centred on the gut microbiome, this digital ethnography follows Brazilian health and fermentation Instagram influencers to comprehend their discourse and underlying dynamics of the human-microbe relationship in the health and dietary practice they advocate.

Paper long abstract:

The gut microbiome research has transcended the boundaries of laboratories and academic papers, extending its reach to health practitioners, cooks, and individuals keen on enhancing their well-being. This inquiry is rooted in the cultivation of lifestyle changes and dietary habits that prioritise the pivotal role played by gut microbiota. Within the framework of a Post-Pasteurian cultural paradigm, as Paxson (2008) expounded, microorganisms are no longer perceived solely as a threat to humans.

This study delves into the practices and discourses surrounding these microorganisms by employing an ethnographic approach that centres on gut microbes and eating practices. Such an exploration can reassess our corporeal boundaries with the world, as Mol (2021), thereby challenging entrenched notions of human superiority and centrality (Haraway, 2019). At the same time, as Mayer (2016) and other gut microbiome specialists proposed, pursuing optimal health may inadvertently give rise to healthism practices perpetuating the illusion of human control over other organisms, as in Hey (2020).

In this congress, I will present the findings of a digital ethnography to be conducted between March and May 2024. Focused on Brazilian content creators on Instagram—medical professionals, nutritionists, and fermentation enthusiasts—whose endeavours centre on gut microbes, this study aims to elucidate the fundamental tenets underpinning the human-microbes relationship within health-conscious dietary practices. By examining these influencers' discourse, I aspire to comprehend the underlying principles of the human-microbes relationship in healthy eating practices, thereby paving the way for a more profound ethnographic exploration of our relationship with microbes through dietary practices in Brazil.

Panel P233
Oh my gut: anthropological pathways to the cultural, affective, medical and multispecies entanglements of the gut
  Session 1