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Post-Antibiotic Futures

theme 2019-2020

Interrogating the realities and imaginings of the post-antibiotic era

Today, antibiotic resistance is an international fact; an estimated 50,000 people die every year in Europe and The United States as a result of bacteria that have become resistant. However, imagination can easily conjure up an escalation and an even more dystopian future. Thus, it is estimated that by 2050, ten million people will die of infections that cannot be treated because of resistant bacteria and ineffective antibiotics. Extrapolations like this are a form of travelling in historical and future thoughts to a dystopian society deeply restructured by such a crisis.

The idea that our entire society is moving into the post-antibiotic era dates back to at least the early 1990s with references to increasing resistance and the absence of new antibiotics, entirely reshaping human history into the long-term future. But is the future so dystopic? And can we find alternative ways towards a more liveable post-antibiotic world? In order to answer this question, we must expand our scopebeyond the field of medicine and look at the challenges of antibiotic resistance from perspectives of society, politics, culture, communication, architecture and other research disciplines that contribute insight into what makes a society liveable.

This theme interrogates the realities and imaginings of the post-antibiotic era, by investigating possible futures for a more liveable and sustainable relationship to antibiotics, to infections and to social life.