Ebola in Perspective: Health, Panic, and Politics
On November 12th, 2014 the Vanderbilt Center for Medicine, Health and Society hosted a cross-campus panel titled Ebola in Perspective: Health, Panic, and Politics. The panel brought clinicians and public health experts involved in treating the ebola virus into conversation with humanists, social scientists, and students who study the cultural tropes, colonial assumptions, and mainstream stereotypes that have spread alongside the virus. Framing questions for the panel included, 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? The brief papers from the panel are summarized in the responses below.