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Accepted Paper:

Reframing neglect in the anthropology of neglected tropical diseases  


Aphaluck Bhatiasevi (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

As anthropologists of Neglected Tropical Diseases we should reconsider our framing of NTDs. This paper argues for anthropological framings to be independent of global health categories, to include infectious tropical diseases neglected by the NTD brand, such as meliondosis.

Paper long abstract:

Melioidosis is an infectious tropical disease neglected by the Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) brand. Despite causing high impact among rice farmers, the disease is not visible in the public sphere. Infections vary from mild flulike symptoms, to tuberculosis like prolonged illness. Patients contract the bacteria through exposure to soil and water in rice paddies in tropical countries. Melioidosis is an example of an infectious disease that has fallen through the cracks of global health framings such as NTDs. This paper argues for anthropological framings on infectious tropical diseases to be independent of global health categories. It calls for more inter-disciplinary dialogue between infectious diseases, the environment, and human and non-human species, to address a wide variety of infectious diseases impacting marginalised communities in tropical countries. Anthropologists can play a critical role in studying infectious diseases largely invisible in global health with high impact to local communities. With global warming and the complex and constantly evolving entangled relations between humans, the environment, and non-humans, there is a need for more engagement between anthropologies of infectious diseases, the environment, and human and non-humans species. Our inquiry needs a critical consideration of the constantly evolving entanglements and relations between the biological, the ecological and the social lives of humans and non-humans. As anthropologists in the contemporary world, we need to take an active role in applying anthropological insights, while at the same time advance the ontology and epistemology of the field. The production and application of knowledge go hand-in-hand.

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Anthropology at a crossroads: neglected tropical diseases and the future of our discipline