DOI link for Pandemic publics
Pandemic publics book
Public health interventions and infrastructures have the potential to address and bring into being national publics and their affective relationships with the state. The UK’s National Health Service, for example, is often cited as a cornerstone of the social contract between the state and its citizens as well as among citizens themselves. Epidemics, by contrast, often bring into focus specific populations and groups, both in terms of exposure and in efforts at containment, while connecting them to supranational institutions. In this chapter, I track permutations in the social and political collectives that form around epidemic interventions, drawing on the case of HIV/AIDS in East Africa. Here, specific populations, groups, and ‘communities’, brought into focus through transnational interventions, gather social visibility and political traction while others fade into the background. I explore tensions between visibility and invisibility, and consider what is at stake in these struggles, both for local moral economies of identity and value and for ambitions surrounding public health as an arena of the public good.