DOI link for Introduction
Epidemic and pandemic threats contour our contemporary political rationalities and social realities. Anthropologists have a complicated history with the study of epidemics and their control. Episodic and exceptional in nature, epidemics are a real-time crisis that compels immediate response. The outbreak of HIV/AIDS shifted and amplified the dimensions of anthropological engagement with epidemics. Growing historical and anthropological interest in the way epidemics are visualised has led to studies that go beyond the usual illustrative or representational focus on epidemic images. Seen as a process that contributes but also challenges epistemological and political aspects of epidemics, visualisation is thus becoming a new terrain of medical anthropological research. This chapter presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the book. The book presents three thematic threads: the study of zoonotic disease or interspecies transmission of pathogens, the infrastructural and material aspects of epidemics, and counter-epidemic intervention.