The Pandemic as Disaster: African Perspectives
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When is the pandemic a disaster? Lessons for Africa on how not to copy the West
It has become a truism to claim that there are no such things as natural disaster. This serves to remind that disasters are always a function of how a society appraises risks. A critical insight from the sociology of risk and disasters draws our attention to the epistemological implications of this truism. It consists of the idea that disasters are phenomena that count as something specific in a particular context. The purpose of my lecture will be to deploy this insight in the discussion of the conditions under which Covid-19 became a disaster in Africa. My claim is that it became a disaster because African governments defined it in European terms.
Elisio Macamo is professor of sociology and African studies at the University of Basel, Switzerland. He worked on disaster and risk for many years and these issues continue to be an abiding interest. However, his most recent work focuses on methodological issues, especially on how knowledge production on Africa can help us improve the disciplines.
Reading: Macamo, E. (2022): Africa and the Coronavirus. In: Bringel, B./ Pleyers, J. (ed.): Social Movements and Politics during COVID-19: Crisis, Solidarity and Change in a Global Pandemic. Bristol: Bristol University Press