What Should We Do With Our Gut?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores how breakthrough neuroscientific research regarding the Microbiome-Gut-Brain-Axis (MGBA) resonates with Catherine Malabou’s discussions of a delocalised, decentralised, plastic brain. Inspired by Malabou’s materialist methodology, as well as her confrontation of neuroscientific and psychoanalytic paradigms, the article unpacks the imbrication of symbolic and neuro-microbiological treatments of the gut and its excreta. Interlacing the thought of Julia Kristeva, Melanie Klein and Malabou alongside current MGBA research and critical studies of science and technology, I reveal how symbolic and microbial transmissions in early childhood development reflect a multimodal and multitemporal formation that challenges the established imaginary associated with functional gut and subject development. Secondly, I consider how MGBA research bears upon questions of difference, examining its further materialisation of Malabou’s otherness in a world without exteriority. Through this discussion I question the significance of this biological paradigm shift, as it disturbs notions of agency and the subject/environment distinction, opening to pressing ethical questions at this moment in human history. Through these varied interrogations and provocations, I provide a preliminary window into the potential of MGBA research to enable new departures for thinking the fragmentary movement of form and time underpinning Malabou’s motor schema of plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-98
Number of pages20
JournalCulture, Theory and Critique
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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