Accepted Paper:

From consecrating the self to an imagery of the kill: the anthropology of smallpox vaccination  
Harish Naraindas (Jawaharlal Nehru University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper suggests that smallpox eradication may be seen as a charismatic adventure, thus making affect a central impetus of its success. But this affect is to be located in the state and its bureucracy rather than locating it only in recalcitrant patients in the face of state imposed vaccination.

Paper long abstract:

This paper suggests that smallpox eradication may be seen as a charismatic adventure, thus making affect a central impetus of its 'success'. But this affect is to be located in the state and its bureucracy, rather than in recalcitrant patients in the face of state imposed vaccination. It will argue that while recalcitrant patients may have resisted vaccination for perfectly rational reasons, the state, through an imposed language of crisis and emergency, with the leitmotif of a charismatic adventure of virtuosos and of a radically restructured health bureaucracy, transmuted smallpox in India from a deity to a demon. Captured well through the concept of triage, it made for a singularity of intent and an imagery of the kill. The language of crisis and charisma, and the accompanying rhetoric of disgrace, goading everyone to rise from a state of fall, allowed the state to see itself as being privy to an act of ritual purging for which any price was worth paying. In the bargain, the state and global institutions like the WHO not only renewed their contract but were also consecrated. This leaves us with two models of consecration in the passage from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. If the eighteenth-century was marked by an individualised ethic of consecrating the self, as a strategy to both solicit and purge in an attempt to mitigate the disease, the twentieth century imagery locates the object to be transformed in the other: an other which is merely a detour to the virus.

Panel P087
The politics of vaccination: affect, rationality and power