Global Health in a Time of Emergency
With Andrew Lakoff (University of Southern California)
This talk will describe two distinct regimes through which contemporary disease emergencies may be taken up: humanitarian biomedicine and global health security. Each of these regimes constitutes disease as a different kind of problem and points to a different set of responses. For humanitarian biomedicine, disease emergency presents the unassailable demand for immediate intervention to alleviate the suffering of individuals, regardless of national boundaries or social identities. For global health security, the onset of disease emergency provokes the application of technocratic protocols for managing the spread of a dangerous pathogen. The talk will track the emergence of these two regimes as disparate responses to a perceived crisis of nation-state based systems of health provision, as well as to the appearance of novel health threats linked to processes of globalization, civil strife, and ecological incursions. Finally, I will analyze the case of the global response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa to illustrate the significance of the distinction between these two regimes.