Week 2 blog post

The readings and visual material for this week pertained largely to the virus Ebola and current issues surrounding the disease. In the article Notes from Case Zero, links the virus to anthropology. In comparison with this article to the next article, Ten things that Anthropologists can do to fight Ebola in the West, I found the first article to sufficiently lack an anthropological view, as I found it took on a more medical and also cultural view of the virus. This article tended to look more at where the virus originated from and the views of the WHO rather than bringing a purely anthropological view of the virus into discussion. One point that I did find interesting in this article was the quote where the author states that the prevailing rumour of Ebola is that the virus is ‘not real’, as it is the idea that communities have been living with the animals that originated the virus for centuries with no consequence (pg 2 &3). I found this to be an excellent point to bring up it is addresses the mentality that may be prevalent in a more developed nation where these issues do not occur. Bringing up this point addresses concerns that a foreign reader may have. However it may also seek to tell the reader discreetly that these African countries are not as ‘simple’ as one may think, and although they may be more conjoined with nature than our culture, the issue of Ebola is one that still needs much attention. The next article, ‘Ten things that Anthropologists can do to fight the West Africa Ebola Epidemic’ I found to be more based on anthropology, and to bring up some valid questions of concern. One point of issue I had while reading this article as I am sure many others also did was the phone call illustrated in the beginning of the article where the author offers her services to Doctors Without Borders. They kindly reject the medical services which are clearly needed, and tell the author that if they wish to help Doctors Without Borders, they will have to go through a 12 month application and waiting process, and even then may not get placed into a country they wish. This call illustrates the gap between organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, and anthropology, as in doing fieldwork many anthropologists would have learned skills that could be useful to help fight the virus. In this article as well, the author addresses different actions anthropologists can take to help fight Ebola. Some of the points the author brings up are valid, although some of them can be seen as degraded towards African people. Some of the points, such as teaching how to count bodies, may seem degrading to an African, as if we are imposing on their society and saying that ‘you cant do this properly, here, let us do it for you.’ This is not the mentality that should ever used when regarding another society, as each society and culture has a different, but equally effective way of going about things. As for the video, I found this video very basic and straightforward, but also very informative in regards to what is happening at the front lines of the virus in Africa. The video gave a good look at how quickly the disease can spread, and even how the virus can survive in a dead body, so why precautions must be used.

Nicole Vilaca


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