What can one man accomplish, even a great man and brilliant scientist? Although every town in France has a street named for Pasteur, was he alone able to. Bruno Latour, The Pasteurization of France, Harvard UP, What can we write on (the history of) invisible microbes? Maybe we can write on. BRUNO LATOUR The ‘Franslatcd by Aian Sheridan andjolin r^iw The Pasteurization of France Bruno Latour Translated by Alan Sheridan and John Law.

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Verne’s Les millions de la Begum, which contrasts Hygie, the healthy French town, with Noson, the unhealthy “Boche” town, without the slightest mention of a microbe, is the literary counterpart of Petten- koffer. But the situation is even more discouraging in that this distortion does not always occur. It requires a force to fetch it, seize upon it for its own motives, move it, and often transform it.

In no pastsurization 54 War pasteurizafion Peace of Microbes must they interrupt the disinfection of midwives’ hands or the ster- ilization of milk. Latour uses semiotics and studies three scientific journals. The mere definition of an agent is enough “to lead us to believe” — a crucial term — in a new program of research. Pasteur, Koch claims, generalized much too quickly: In order to interest the social movement of which the hygienists were the spokes- men, a doctrine was needed that explained the variation of the vir- ulence in terms compatible with the problems involved in transforming the towTis and the living environment to which the hygienists had devoted their attention.

And where does money come Introduction 1 1 from? There is not a network that links nature with science and society. Pasteur’s contemporaries, the Pasteurians, and French historians were not unaware of this problem.

From July on, Pasteur claims, pastehrization was mobilizing science for the cure of “the Prussian canker”pp. It is to suppose that time passes and dates exist. From obligatory point of passage to obligatory points of passage, the path emerges to explain the variation of elements that the doctrine of morbid spontaneity alone seemed capable of accounting for.


He does not base society on biology, like a vulgar contemporary; he redefines society itself, a society in which the new agents intervene now and at all points. The latest figures for deaths from infectious diseases, says Richet, “have been in constant progress for the past twenty-five years”p.

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More seriously, sociology remains deaf to the lessons of the actors themselves. Even the prudent Bou- chardat did not hesitate to write on the subject of the plague that it would be necessary “to isolate and cultivate the microorganism as Pasteur would have done”p.

Both announced that they were speaking in the name of invisible, rejected, terribly dangerous forces that must be listened to if civilization was not to collapse. No one, toward the end of the century, could do without contagion in connecting men, plants, and animals. Tolstoy succeeded, and the whole of recent history supports his theories as to the relative importance of great men in relation to the overall movements that are represented or appropriated by a few eponymous figures.

Faithful to its tradition, lwtour usually defines society as made up of groups, pasteirization, intentions, and conflicts of interest. Read this in my Sociology of Medicine university course. Instead there are only actants or actors who are part of network and who are a network themselves. Microbiology — France — History — 19th century.

Before, the hygienists could not, without being immediately contradicted, tell others what the time was and yell, “You are archaic and superseded.

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Either the microbe gets through and all precautions are useless, or hygienists can stop it getting through and all other precautions are superfluous. But this was never the case. The clearest case was obviously that of surgery. Instead of reducing science to a given social environment, Latour tries to show the simultaneous building of a society and its scientific facts. In this infrastructure story, Pasteurians are one of the many groups that use the same difference in potential, even if the word “Pasteur” came to designate in France the whole of this universal movement of regen- eration.


The avidity of those who seized on what he said gives us some idea of the extent of the social movement whose main outlines I have been pasteurizattion. Against everything at once, but with no certainty of success.

The Pasteurization of France — Bruno Latour | Harvard University Press

Yet to supply this conception various historians assume forces of entirely different kinds, all of which are incommensurate with the movement observed. Although opponents were numerous enough in the Academic de Medecine, where Pasteur sought them out with pasteurzation violent rhetoric, there were only two in the Revue: This closure of the argument was due, in turn, to the allies that they gave themselves in order to make their positions impregnable.

Fill pasteurozation your details below or click an icon to log in: For that, you need soldiers. Was it the result of a great single genius scientist? The enthusiasm of the surgeons shows clearly enough that we can- not distinguish “belief” from “knowledge. In sum, it is an indisputable case and and therefore a perfect example for my argument. None of them is pastdurization certain, they admit, but none of them can really be abandoned.

In its own direction.

Was it possible to define in advance, negatively, that excess of force which, retrospectively, hygiene seemed to lack?

Like Freud, Pasteur found treasure, not in the parapraxes and trifles of everyday life, but in decay and refuse.

Thanks to the prowess of this agent, Fuchs sets about linking two hitherto unconnected sta- tistical aggregates, the presence of disease and gonorrhoea in the mother.