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Disease: between social imagination and political fact

How do the representations of a disease influence the means set up to fight it and the care provided to patients? What role do worst-case scenarios and other fictions play in health safety policies? The risk of stigma incurred by those who suffer from diseases (HIV/AIDS, Ebola…) serves to remind us that we cannot ignore the social and political significance of a medical diagnosis.

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Ebola in Perspective: Health, Panic, and Politics

As the Ebola virus spreads and grows into a “global threat,” information about the disease mixes with a host of larger questions and concerns. How can we separate reasoned preparation from blind panic? In what ways does the spread of Ebola expose connections between local practices and global networks, impact travel or interpersonal interactions, or alter categories of “us” and “them”? How might the lessons of ethnography and history better inform our present-day response? And what are the implications for training students and health-care workers?