A disease without a future? Medical modernities in TB control
Janina Kehr (University of Bern)
Paper short abstract:
As a result of social and medical "advances" since the 1940’s, TB is no longer considered a major infectious scourge in Western Europe, having been envisioned as a disease without a future until recently. I will show how this vision shapes the medical cultures of TB treatment and control in the present.
Paper long abstract:
As a result of social and medical « advances » in the middle part of the last century, Tuberculosis (TB) is no longer considered a major infectious scourge in France or Germany. But while in these countries TB has been relegated to the margins of political and public health concern, elsewhere over the last two decades the disease has continued to present significant new challenges to global health. In my paper, I will argue that tuberculosis has been envisioned for a long time as a disease without a future in the North - a vision that until today shapes the medical cultures of TB treatment and control on a global scale. Actualising old public health practices rather than finding new approaches and perpetuating a magic-bullet imaginary of disease control rather than questioning the limits of phramaceuticalisation, the contemporary medical cultures of tuberculosis control thereby remain caught in a highly modernist framework of the « fight » against this disease. In practice though, innovation occurs and new apparatuses are created in experimental public health settings, apparatuses which nevertheless face old contradictions where attempts of inclusion collide with politics of exclusion. Situated ethics of intervention emerge, where non-intervention is as much part of the practices as preventive and curative actions. The arguments of my paper are based on multi-sited ethnographic research on TB control in France and Germany, realised between 2005 and 2010.
Infectious disease and wealth: exploring the links between tuberculosis and the political economy