This interdisciplinary conversation will examine the methodological challenges and theoretical opportunities posed by the study of contagion.
This conversation will explore the methodological pitfalls and theoretical potentials of studying biological contagion. Bringing together scholars who have produced pioneering work in the social dynamics of pathogenic exchange and the geopolitics of biosecurity, we will examine the multiple ontologies of transmission and the ways in which health and illness are configured in strategies of prevention. Drawing on diverse empirical materials the group will consider the heuristic value of different immunological imaginaries, such barriers, borders, hot-spots, resistance, reservoir, vectors or spill-over. Participants to this discussion are: Ian Harper is a Professor of Anthropology, Health and Development at the University of Edinburgh. A trained medical practitioner with extensive ethnographic experience in Nepal, Harper has evaluated and helped to design public health programs in South Asia health policies and programmes in the UK and Nepal, writing widely on the politics of global health programmes, pharmaceutical research, development, distribution and consumption. Harper is currently extending these concerns in the context of a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Grant Award entitled: “Understanding TB Control: Technologies, Ethics & Programmes. “ Steve Hinchilffe is a Professor of Geography and the Director of the Science, Technology and Culture (STAC) theme of the University of Exeter’s Humanities, Arts and Social Science Research Strategy (HASS). Hinchliffe’s conceptualizations into practices of biosecurity, urban ecologies and ontological politics of the One Health Agenda has advanced new fields of inquiry and critique that cut across the social and natural sciences, diverse publics and policy makers. His current work includes an interdisciplinary project on cross disciplinary tools for modelling social, biological and economic transformation as well as providing advice to DEFRA, endemic bovine TB and antibiotic resistance. Frederic Keck is the Director of The Department of research and teaching of the Quai Branly Museum. He has published extensively on Claude Lévi-Strauss, forming the theoretical platform of ethnographic work into the public health configurations of human-animal relationships, material politics of emerging zoonotic disease and the ontologies of entities of global health risk – e.g. reservoirs, vectors and spillover. Dr Keck is currently coordinating a project entitled, “social representations of pathogens at the frontiers between species”, sponsored by the Axa Research Fund and co-led by Philippe Descola. Christos Lynteris is a Senior Research Associate at the Center for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) at the University of Cambridge. Grounded in historiography and disease ecology in China and South Siberia, his ethnographic research has shed light on the interstices of aesthetics, lived and experiences and biopolitics of epidemics. The Principal Investigator of the ERC-funded 5-year project “Visual Representations of the Third Plague Pandemic”, Dr Lynteris is examining the distinct and often conflicting depictions of plague outbreaks across the globe from 1855-1959.