The Arts of the Microbial World

The Arts of the Microbial World

"The Arts of the Microbial World explores how Japanese scientists and skilled workers sought to use the microbe's natural processes to create new products, from soy-sauce mold starters to MSG and from vitamins to statins. In traditional brewing houses as well as in the food, fine chemical, and pharmaceutical industries across Japan, they showcased their ability to deal with the enormous sensitivity and variety of the microbial world. Victoria Lee's careful study offers a lush historical example of a society where scientists asked microbes for what they termed "gifts." Lee's story ranges from the microbe's integration into Japan as an imported concept to its precise application in recombinant DNA biotechnology. By focusing on a conception of life as fermentation in Japan, she showcases the significance of cultural and technical continuities with the pre-modern period in sustaining non-Western technological breakthroughs in the global economy. At a moment when twenty-first-century developments in the fields of antibiotic resistance, the microbiome, and green chemistry strongly suggest that the traditional eradication-based approach to the microbial world is unsustainable, twentieth-century Japanese microbiology provides a new, broader vantage for understanding and managing microbial interactions with society"--

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Publisher University of Chicago Press
Release Date
ISBN 022681274X
Pages 304 pages
Rating 4/5 (48 users)

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