Article ID: CBB307916719

Who’s afraid of Ebola? Epidemic fires and locative fears in the Information Age (October 2020)


Epidemics have traditionally been viewed as the widespread occurrence of infectious disease within a community, or a sudden increase above what is typical. But modern epidemics are both more and less than the diffusion of viral entities. We argue that epidemics are ‘fire objects’, using a term coined by Law and Singleton: They generate locative fears through encounters that focus attention on entities that are unknown or imprecisely known, transforming spaces and humans into indeterminate dangers, alternating appearance and absence. The Ebola epidemic of 2014 had more complex impacts than the number of infections would suggest. We employ multi-sited qualitative interviews to argue that locative fear is the essence of modern global epidemics. In the discussion we contrast Ebola with both the Zika epidemic that followed and the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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Authors & Contributors
Abeysinghe, Sudeepa
Anderson, Warwick H.
Bondio, Mariacarla Gadebusch
Brazelton, Mary Augusta
Dolan, Brian P.
Engelmann, Lukas
East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal
NTM: Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften, Technik und Medizin
Science as Culture
Social Studies of Science
Technology and Culture
Franco Angeli
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Science and technology studies (STS)
Public health
Medicine and society
Nightingale, Florence
Andrea Verga
Time Periods
21st century
20th century
19th century
Great Britain
European Union
World Health Organization (WHO)
Apple (firm)
Google (firm)

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