Locating disease
On the coexistence of diverse concepts of territory and the spread of disease
in Medicalising borders
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Quarantine is one expression of a particular relationship between infectious disease, governance, people and the territories across which both people and diseases travel. There are other ways to express that relationship as well. This chapter focuses on diverse and historically changing ways that the space across which disease spreads is understood and defined, particularly for the Mediterranean region. This begins from the obvious point that if a territory is understood in nationalist terms, attempts to control the spread of disease across its borders will differ from responses of territories that are understood, for example, as networks. In addition, medical and other epistemological understandings of the way that infectious diseases spread, including the metaphors used to understand these processes and vectors, can have a significant effect on responses (for example, total eradication and exclusion or learning to coexist with it). The chapter takes a brief historical look at how different political regimes responded to outbreaks of infectious disease – most particularly plague – in the Mediterranean region, and focuses on both the political and scientific logic drawn upon to guide the responses, as well as looking at critiques of the various accusations made as to who was to blame for epidemics in the past. It argues that the contemporary moment is at a crossroads, in which historical precedent could provide some indication of the implications of different paths.

Medicalising borders

Selection, containment and quarantine since 1800

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