Dreams of Infrastructure and the Pasts of Global Health: Examples from Senegal

Date: 24 July 2017
Time: 3:30pm
Venue: Room 1066, 10F, Run Run Shaw Tower, Centennial Campus, HKU

Dreams of Infrastructure and the Pasts of Global Health: Examples from Senegal by Dr. Noémi R. Tousignant (Department of History, University of Montréal)

In this paper, I explore encounters between new forms of global health practice and older aspirations for public health in an African setting. My examples are of demographic surveillance and poison control in Senegal. Both were recently invested in by global health initiatives, namely for transnational clinical trials and an emergency response to lead poisoning. Such types of investment are often presented, by their own actors and by anthropologists, as substituting for inadequate national health and research infrastructures. In other words, they are seen as ‘self-infrastructuring’ and as disconnected from local histories of public health. I suggest that we need to look beyond concrete, fully-functional infrastructures and attend to how infrastructural work and dreams can also create links between past and emerging ways of making knowledge and protecting lives. In this way, I describe how efforts to build and maintain demographic and poison-monitoring infrastructures beginning in the 1960s and 1970s have both facilitated and challenged recent instances and models of global health action. This paper thus makes a plea for African ‘infrastructural’ histories, complemented by ethnographic study of the past-in-the-present, to identify the conditions of, and some alternatives to, current models of global health.

About the Speaker:
Noémi R. Tousignant is visiting researcher of Department of History

All welcome. Enquiries: contact_chm@hku.hk