The Anthro-Zoonoses network was founded in 2014 with funding from the ESRC and support from the Anthropology Department at Durham University. Our aim is to promote social scientific engagements in the field of human-animal health. A small group of us met some years earlier when working together at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Here, we began thinking about zoonotic and vector borne diseases from anthropological perspectives. Like many anthropologists at the time, we were (and still are!) attracted to theoretical debates taking place in our discipline about human relations with nonhumans, including the so-called ‘multi-species turn’ in anthropology. We started thinking, talking and writing about how these theoretical developments might be brought into conversation with the concerns of medical anthropology and global health. As we did so, our intellectual networks grew through meetings and collaborations with other scholars working on these themes. The Anthro-Zoonoses network was launched to solidify these informal networks; to reach out to other scholars interested in these themes; and to promote the study of zoonotic diseases in anthropology.
The global significance of zoonotic and vector-borne diseases is readily apparent. Most emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases are animal diseases which ‘spill over’ into human populations. As the 2014-5 Ebola outbreak in West Africa has highlighted, these zoonotic diseases are of enormous international concern, threatening the lives of thousands and risking crises in global health security. Zoonoses have recently become a significant priority for organisations, such as the WHO and One Health Initiative.
Role of Anthropology
Anthropologists have much to offer in the study of these diseases. The growing popularity of the One Health agenda highlights the importance of thinking about the intersections between human, environmental and animal well-being. Anthropologists have expertise which can help us understand the different ways in which people and animals live together and how these are related to the wellbeing of different species. Our discipline is also well positioned to reflect upon the ways in which patterns of everyday interaction between humans and animals are shaped by broader social, political and economic structures. Finally, with expertise in working with institutions and professionals as well as with people who are economically and politically marginalised, anthropologists are well positioned to critically interrogate and engage with public health initiatives, including responses to outbreaks of zoonotic disease, practices of disease surveillance, and forms of outbreak preparedness. Our network aims to promote social science engagements with zoonotic diseases across and beyond this broad spectrum.
We welcome new members. Please get in touch with Andrea Kaiser-Grolimund (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you would like to get more information. News and events are published on our website www.anthrozoonoses.net and via our twitter feed @anthrozoonoses.