How can we make sense of a future with microbial life without assuming cooperation? Communication

Track:
DÉGUSTATION
What:
Talk
When:
12:00, Saturday 8 May 2021 (30 minutes)
Discussion:
0

Maya Hey, Concordia University, Canada

Saké is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented rice originating from Japan. Out of the approximately 1,000 breweries still in operation today, Terada Honké is one of two natural saké breweries in Japan that exclusively rely on ambient, wild bacteria and yeasts to jumpstart the fermentation process. There, the brewers must attune to the shared surroundings in order to cultivate environments that are conducive to fermenting, tuning to the sensory rituals (e.g. song, call-and-response tasks) and embodied knowing (e.g. organoleptic profiles) to encourage microbial life.

Uniquely, Terada Honké does not use chemical sanitizers, rendering the task of ‘cleaning’ as both a subversive act (especially in the face of federally mandated public health protocols) and a harrowing reminder that living with microbes challenges the human notion of control over risk.

This presentation examines the insights garnered from a sensory ethnography conducted at Terada Honké in winter 2019. It contends with the sensory politics of how sectors come to know the ontological status of an invisible microbe and subsequently enact protocols around ‘prevention’ and ‘safety’. How can we-humans make sense of a future with microbial life without assuming cooperation or even clear communication with them?


Presenter
concordia university