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
Gobo, Giampietro
Sena, Barbara
Green, Monica H.
Petty, JuLeigh
Heimer, Carol A.
East Asian Science, Technology and Society: An International Journal
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Social Studies of Science
Technology and Culture
NTM: Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften, Technik und Medizin
Cambridge University Press
Yale University Press
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Technoscience; science and technology studies
Infectious diseases
Public health
Nightingale, Florence
Time Periods
21st century
20th century
19th century
20th century, late
United States
South Korea
Great Britain
World Health Organization (WHO)

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