Visual Regimes of Zoonotic Disease Emergence

The introduction of the notion of emergence in the study of zoonotic diseases has over the past 25 years led to major epistemological and methodological shifts in the study of animal-borne infectious diseases. This paper explores the visual regimes accompanying and fostering this paradigm, focusing in particular on two central aspects of the visualization of emergence: global EID maps and zoonotic infection diagrams. The paper examines the ways in which these visual structures anchor the study and configuration of zoonotic diseases on an ontological and epistemological level. To what extent does this visual regime reflect the prospects and limitations of emergence-focused approaches of zoonoses? How does the map-diagram diptych structure questions of causality regarding animal-borne diseases? To what extent is the visualization of emergence embedded in a research economy and culture geared towards spillover events that obviates long durée understandings of zoonoses? What historically established alternatives of representing and reasoning about zoonoses does the hegemony of this visual regime foreclose? The paper aims to relate to these questions in an effort to draw attention to the need of a re-visualization of zoonotic processes, which may allow for the development of critical epidemiological perspectives.

Christos Lynteris

Presented at Social Science and Zoonotic Disease: Emergence, Ecologies, Ethnography, Durham University, 17-18 September 2015.


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