How are culture, wealth and infectious diseases interlinked? This panel will explore these issues from case studies around attempts to control tuberculosis.
Enlightenment reason, with its consequent mechanisation and urbanisation led to the flourishing of tuberculosis - consumption - which while predominantly affecting the poor, impacted everyone. The condition energised and animated the poetic and Romantic sensibilities, and became the exemplar of the artistic death. With the advent of effective treatments and anti-tuberculous drugs, these poetic images are hard to imagine today, but in many parts of the world the disease still impacts most heavily on the poor, marginal, and the disenfranchised. In this panel we seek papers that move beyond the simple linking of social inequality and poverty to infectious disease. To what extent do or can attempts to control tuberculosis address the issues of underlying poverty around which the disease flourishes? How has the focus on drug treatments overshadowed other ways of addressing the control of the disease and what are the implications of this? What role does anthropology have in thinking about the relations between culture and economy with regards to tuberculosis, and how might these insights be important for policy and practice in the control of the disease?