Week 2: The Political Economy of Disease in Africa- AIDS to Ebola

Jessica Slade- 110232060

For the purposes of this week’s blog post, we engaged in material that specifically focused on the political economy of disease in Africa. We views the film “Ebola war the nurses of Gulu” by Alethia Productions and read the three articles “The politics and anti-politics of social movements: religion and HIV/AIDS in Africa,” by Marian Burchardt & Amy Patterson, and Notes from Case Zero: Anthropology in the time of Ebola,” by Almudena Sáez, Ann Keyy & Hannah Brown, and lastly “Ten things that Anthropologists can do to fight the West African Ebola epidemic,” by Sharon Abramowitz.

Ebola war the nurses of Gulu” by Alethia Productions can be found at: http://vimeo.com/39885512

The work “The politics and anti-politics of social movements: religion and HIV/AIDS in Africa,” by Marian Burchardt & Amy Patterson works to deconstruct the place of Ebola in Africa and how the international community- namely religious organizations have responded to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. By using a broad scope to assess the situation, we learn how health issues are framed in the context of foreign aid and the process of donating. In this work we are able to see the benefits of short-term gain and the potential for long-term pain, where western aid is the primary source of monetary compensation for programs lacking funding. What do you think about international investment in times of chaos? Is the Band-Aid type solution worth it, or is there another way to combat crisis?

The second article this week is entitled, Notes from Case Zero: Anthropology in the time of Ebola,” by Almudena Sáez, Ann Keyy & Hannah Brown. In this work we learn about the place of anthropologist individually as well as the community of anthropology and the role that they can play in working to decrease the spread of Ebola. In using methods of anthropological analysis, workers argue that their knowledge is improperly being used in combat of the disease. In time of crisis often sectors of development aid can be overlooked if deemed not immediately useful. In this case, we can see how one may value the place of a western trained doctor or contamination prevention specialist first. This is not to say that there is not a place for anthropologists in the midst of all of this- because I believe that there is. I am merely just examining the repose from the local community and the value that is place on people based on their professions. After reading this work do you believe that the anthologists could have been better utilize? What is the solution to aid workers who are unable to find their place in the international community, is their place necessary or are some situations better without them?

Lastly, the work “Ten things that Anthropologists can do to fight the West African Ebola epidemic,” by Sharon Abramowitz, has proved to be an interesting read that bares witness to the direct actions that can be carried out by global and local anthropological figures. In a change from many other forms of modern literature, this work seems to provide positivity in terms of Western involvement in crisis and seeks to examine what workers can do to aid in the Ebola epidemic. By using their trained skills- such as ethnographic research, we learn that anthropologists can play an important role as actors in crisis. In doing this, the gap between the global and local communities will inherently be made smaller, resulting in the development of more transparent and localized structures of aid. Prior to reading this work did you ever consider the place of anthropologists as the linking factor between global and local organizations?

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