Contagious connections: epidemics of non-communicable diseases and social contagion

Lotte Meinert (Århus University)
Ruth Prince (University of Oslo)
Jens Seeberg
Cheryl Mattingly
Start time:
23 July, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

In this panel we wish to explore contagious connection and "social contagion" in its epidemic forms in relation to non-communicable diseases. What are relevant units of analysis and scale to theorize contagious connections? How might anthropological legacies contribute to this?

Long abstract:

Challenging the widespread distinction between communicable and non- communicable diseases we take our starting point from the idea that problems such obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, trauma, autism, drug use, ADHD etc. are indeed communicable phenomena. Currently, we are witnessing the rise of significant epidemics of such diseases and conditions globally, but the social dynamics of how they spread are poorly theorized. How can anthropological legacies help theorize contagious connections? In this panel we want to ask what is spreading, through which processes, and think with notions of shared homes, bodies, substances, emotions, memories and belongings. Specifically we're interested in what are relevant units of analysis and scale: kinship, the body, the person, a social network, the industry, the state, the parastate? What happens in the analytical shift between these units and scales? Also we are interested in how to think about and convey experiences of social contagion, protection and immunity, as well as critical and ethical reflections on the consequences of importing epidemiological notions into the exploration of social relations.