Show Less
Restricted access

Decolonizing Ebola Rhetorics Following the 2013–2016 West African Ebola Outbreak

Marouf Hasian, Jr.

Decolonizing Ebola Rhetorics Following the 2013-2016 West African Ebola Outbreak defends the position that, despite the supposed “lessons” that have been learned about the spread of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) after the 2013–2016 West African Ebola outbreak, there remains a need to “decolonize” the rhetorics of Ebola prevention and containment. The author asserts that the failure of governments, aid organizations, and global media to confront the structural and material legacies of colonialism in West Africa will prevent global communities from adequately dealing with sporadic Ebola outbreaks. Central to the book’s argument is that far too many communities in the “global North” are unwilling to spend the hundreds of billions of dollars that are needed for the prevention of endemic and epidemic diseases in the “global South.” Instead of coping with the impoverished legacies of colonialism, organizations like the World Health Organization support the use of small groups of “Ebola hunters” who swoop down during crises and put out EVD outbreaks using emergency health techniques. The author demonstrates how Western-oriented ways of dealing with EVD have made it difficult to convince West African populations—wary of emergency interventions after a long history of colonial medical experimentation in Africa—that those in the West truly care about the prevention of the next Ebola outbreak. Decolonizing Ebola Rhetorics ultimately argues that as long as global journalists and elite public health officials continue to blame bats, bushmeat, or indigenous burial practices for the spread of Ebola, the necessary decolonization of Ebola rhetorics will be forestalled. The author concludes the book by offering critiques of the real lessons that are learned by those who try to securitize or military Ebola containment efforts.

Show Summary Details
Restricted access

Chapter 7 Lessons Learned? A Postcolonial Reading of Futuristic Western Ebola Tales

Lessons Learned? A Postcolonial Reading of Futuristic Western Ebola Tales



In The Plague, Albert Camus once noted that while everybody “knows that pestilences have a way of recurring in the world,” somehow “we find it hard to believe in ones that crash down on our heads from a blue sky.”1 This might be an apt way of beginning a conclusion that tackles the subject of the decolonizing lessons that might be learned from our remembrances of the 2013–2016 Ebola outbreak.

Postcolonial critics are obliged to notice presences and absences, and they often point out the lingering influences of colonial and imperial rhetorics in infectious disease contexts. As Franklin Obeng-Odoom, Matthew Marke, and Beckhio Bockarie argued in 2018, few of the foreigners who came to West Africa between 2013 and 2016 took into account the importance of cultural influences, class relationships, and the “social medicine” features of an EVD outbreak that was treated as a “risk” to those who adopted top-down strategies.2 By ignoring social inequities and inherited material realities the Western rescuers who came with their Ebola response and management teams overlooked the “complex postcolonial political economy of Ebola.”3

In this concluding chapter I want to argue that when many militarists, epidemiologists, bioethicists, science writers, and others use the phrase “lessons learned” in Ebola contexts they try to fetch good from evil by explaining how the loss of more than 11,000 lives was not in vain. Mainstream and alternative press outlets are filled with countless commentaries on how...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.