We would like to invite you to our colloquium, “Ebola in a Stew of Fear” on November 7th at 13:00 (CET).
This talk explores a range of moral tales put forth to account for the origin and spread of the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Conservation biologists seized upon Ebola’s emergence and the associated fear to stigmatize bushmeat hunting in the name of biodiversity protection. Political ecologists employed the disease onslaught to critique the environmental and social impacts of industrial plantation agriculture sweeping across West Africa. Liberians claimed sovereignty over the virus, attempting to overturn parasitic relations of exchange that have long plagued the country. The assorted Ebola outbreak narratives reveal contested histories, politics, meanings, beliefs, fears, values, and rights that have shaped—and will shape—access to the natural resources of the Upper Guinean Forests of West Africa in a world increasingly threatened by deforestation, zoonotic disease, biodiversity loss, and climate change.
Gregg Mitman is the Vilas Research and William Coleman Professor of History, Medical History, and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and Guest Research Professor at LMU’s Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society in Munich. He is currently researching fragments of the Upper Guinean rainforest in Liberia and Guinea. These forest fragments have become “hotspots” where conservation, infectious diseases, and resource extraction collide. The research aims to understand the ecological, economic, political, and social factors behind this convergence.
For the past years Mitman has focused on a multimedia project exploring the history and legacy of the Firestone Plantations Company in Liberia. He coproduced and codirected with Sarita Siegel two films, In the Shadow of Ebola, an intimate portrait of the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, and The Land Beneath Our Feet, a documentary on history, memory, and land rights in Liberia. His most recent book, Empire of Rubber: Firestone’s Scramble for Land and Power in Liberia, was published by The New Press in November 2021.
Dr. Mitman has a Ph.D. and an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Department of History of Science. And a B.Sc. in Biology from Dalhousie University. More information on him and his work: About Gregg Mitman.
More information on each colloquium will be sent to our mailing list as the dates approach. Here you can subscribe to our email list: https://www.mscl.de/mailing-list/ .
Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or ideas about possible topics and speakers.
If you missed the event, you can still watch the presentation here: