Mapping Hot Spots: ‘One Health’ and the History of Infectious Disease Research in Kibale National Forest

With the support of an IRIS Incubator Grant and a Holtz Center Thematic Cluster Grant, Neil Kodesh (History),  Tony Goldberg (Pathobiological Sciences),  and Josh Garoon (Community and Environmental Sociology) initiated a collaborative research cluster from 2016-18 on Mapping Hot Spots: ‘One Health’ and the History of Infectious Disease Research in Africa.”

The goal of the cluster is to develop an interdisciplinary program that bridges the biological and biomedical sciences, humanities, and social sciences to examine questions about the historical constitution and mapping of disease “hot spots,” and the relationship between these processes and the “One Health” paradigm currently promoted by the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization, the World Bank, and a range of other global health and development agencies.

To this end, in fall 2016 Kodesh, Goldberg, and Garoon co-taught a graduate seminar on “Mapping Hot Spots: ‘One Health’ and Infectious Disease Research in Africa.” This seminar had two interrelated aims. First, it brought together a multidisciplinary cohort of graduate students to discuss the ways that “hotspots” are (re)produced scientifically and socially, with particular attention to the relations between emerging infectious disease and biological conservation in sub-Saharan Africa.  Second, during the course and into spring 2017, the seminar students developed an IRB-approved research protocol for three weeks of ethnographic and archival research in western Uganda, which they carried out along with the faculty during May and June, 2017.  This research focused on how Ugandan field assistants for biological and biomedical projects in and around Kibale National Park understand the projects in which they are engaged, and how their understanding shapes the space in which those projects are able to take place. Together, the team members performed extensive research in local archives at Mountains of the Moon University, and conducted dozens of interviews and hours of participant observation with field assistants in Kibale, as well as their family and neighbors. This short video documents the research undertaken in western Uganda.