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We will discuss the tensions inherent in the anthropology of Neglected Tropical Diseases and the future of interdisciplinary engagement. We will situate this discussion in contemporary ideas of what it means to be "interconnected" in an increasingly fragile and vulnerable world.
The world is becoming increasingly tropical, whilst economic inequality, social antagonism and political blindness are growing as well. Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are not only an unsolved problem of our past and present, but especially a threat to the future of humans and other species on this planet. As anthropologists of NTDs in the Anthropocene, our involvement in global health is increasingly accepted as "important" by the biomedical and political establishment, which raises other equally important existential and disciplinary questions: should our (small) sub-field become more and more applied, or should it remain mainly reflexive? How should it approach the ever-growing roadmaps of "disease elimination" being promoted, from trachoma, rabies and sleeping sickness? Should it align itself with the growing interdisciplinary research on epidemic response and emergency interventions, or should it strive to keep the attention focused on the need to tackle long-term, structural, contextual causes of NTDs? Should it join the enthusiastic (and generally well-funded) rush for tools and technological solutions or should it push us—both as researchers and humans of the Anthropocene—to rethink what we want to be, not what we want to do? We propose a discussion on the tensions inherent in the anthropology of NTDs and the future of interdisciplinary engagement and anthropological intervention. We will situate this discussion in contemporary ideas of what it means to be "interconnected" in an increasingly fragile and vulnerable world.