Northwestern University

Thu 12:00 PM

Ebola 2014 and the Administrative Imagination of Disease​ - Andrew Lakoff

recurring see all events in this series

When: Thursday, November 8, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM  

Where: Robert H Lurie Medical Research Center, 1st floor - BALDWIN AUDITORIUM, 303 E. Superior, Chicago, IL 60611 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Myria Knox   312.503.7962

Group: Medical Humanities & Bioethics Lunchtime Montgomery Lectures

Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities Events

Category: Lectures & Meetings


The Master of Arts in Medical Humanities & Bioethics program
co-sponsored with IPHAM


Andrew Lakoff, PhD
Professor of Sociology
Divisional Dean for Social Sciences
Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA

Ebola 2014 and the Administrative Imagination of Disease​

In the aftermath of the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, the World Health Organization was widely blamed for its slow initial response to the outbreak. According to many critics, the epidemic was a "preventable tragedy" that could be attributed to flaws in WHO leadership and its lack of sufficient resources. This talk offers a somewhat different interpretation: it suggests that a significant dimension of the failure was one of administrative imagination.  At a crucial stage in the outbreak, health authorities did not conceptualize Ebola as the potential source of a catastrophic epidemic, but rather understood it as a disease that could be managed via localized humanitarian care combined with straightforward public health techniques. In turn, the talk argues, the post-hoc diagnosis of administrative failure worked to assimilate Ebola into the more generic category of "global health emergency.”


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