What remains after epidemics have been controlled?
The river blindness laboratory, used mainly 1950s-80s by British, Kenyan and Tanzanian scientists in Amani Hill Research station in North-Eastern Tanzania, in 2015 (Photo: Geissler)
combines anthropology, history and related disciplines (STS, archaeology, geography) to study what remains after disease-outbreaks have been controlled. In four sites across Africa, we examine enduring material traces of past epidemics and anti-epidemic measures, e.g., architecture and technology, plant ecologies and chemical residuals, residence patterns and agriculture, institutional and professional habits, physical changes of patient bodies, disease vectors and pathogens, and how these continue to shape lives and well-being.
Studying traces ethnographically, we attend to their origins and transformations, the present social relations and interactions they assemble, and the futures they shape. We ask how they are used, given meaning and contested, framed by wider historical and political-economic processes, as well as in relation to contemporary concerns with well-being and ill-health. We aim to show how epidemics and their control are intertwined with each other and wider social change, and how the residues of modernism and colonial capitalism affect our shared present and future.