From resilience to resistance: Political ecological lessons from antibiotic and pesticide resistance

Kathryn M. Orzech, Mark Nichter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

34 Scopus citations


This article investigates the interplay of natural and human systems with reference to the growing global problem of antibiotic resistance. Among the diverse causes of antibiotic resistance, we focus broadly on three related causes: pharmaceutical practice and the liberal consumption of antibiotics, the use of antibiotic-containing products in the home, and the use of antibiotics in commercial animal husbandry and agriculture. We draw a parallel between pesticide and antibiotic resistance and examine whether lessons learned from one case may be applicable to the other. Although our main focus is a microecological analysis examining how humans are changing their environments, our conclusion addresses larger implications of this problem for global health. Through the theoretical lens of political ecology, we ask how we may address the "tragedy of the antibiotic commons" through public education and consumer activism as well as global health governance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAnnual Review of Anthropology
EditorsWilliam Durham, Donald Brenneis, Peter Ellison
Number of pages16
StatePublished - 2008

Publication series

NameAnnual Review of Anthropology
ISSN (Print)0084-6570


  • Antibiotic misuse
  • Global health governance
  • Hygiene hypothesis
  • Tragedy of the commons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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