Institute for Bioethics & Health Humanities Events

We Who Do Not Die: Outbreak Narratives Limits and the Political Category of the Survivor

SAMUEL G. DUNN LECTURESHIP IN THE MEDICAL HUMANITIES

 We Who Do Not Die:
Outbreak Narratives Limits and the Political Category of the Survivor

Adia Benton, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Anthropology
Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences
Northwestern University

Thursday, December 9, 2021

11:00am - 12:00pm

Amidst rising Covid-19 cases and deaths in North America, poet Dionne Brand questioned the political tendency “to manage the pandemic as narrative, as calculus, but not yet as reckoning.” Her question is a counterpoint to narrative approaches like Rosenberg’s and echoes concerns foregrounded in Wald’s approach, both of which examine meaning, structure and effect of epidemics on society. Drawing on the case of Ebola survivorship in Sierra Leone, I think through Brand’s assertion, and their implications for certain kinds of narrative approaches: what do narrative and calculative perspectives presume, prefigure and prioritize -- particularly as they relate to temporal and experiential dimensions of disease events and public health crises? I argue that moving beyond the dramaturgical and narrative explanations (and towards reckoning) requires foregrounding relations of power, intersubjectivity, and temporalities that exceed conventional epidemic plot.

 

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We Who Do Not Die: Outbreak Narratives Limits and the Political Category of the Survivor
, 2021 - -
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