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Understanding Social Resistance to the Ebola Response in the Forest Region of the Republic of Guinea: An Anthropological Perspective

  • James Fairhead


Why did Ebola response initiatives in the Upper Guinea Forest Region regularly encounter resistance, occasionally violent? Extending existing explanations concerning local and humanitarian “culture” and “structural violence,” and drawing on previous anthropological fieldwork and historical and documentary research, this article argues that Ebola disrupted four intersecting but precarious social accommodations that had hitherto enabled radically different and massively unequal worlds to coexist. The disease and the humanitarian response unsettled social accommodations that had become established between existing burial practices and hospital medicine, local political structures and external political subjection, mining interests and communities, and those suspected of “sorcery” and those suspicious of them.

Pourquoi les initiatives de réponse contre l’Ebola dans la région supérieure de la forêt de Guinée ont rencontré des résistances régulières parfois violentes? Élaborant sur des explications existantes en matière de “culture” et de “violence structurelle” locale et humanitaire et en s’appuyant de même sur des recherches précédentes anthropologique sur le terrain ainsi que sur de la recherche historique et documentaire, cet article soutient que l’Ebola a perturbé quatre accommodations sociales précaires qui avaient permis jusqu’ici à des mondes radicalement différents et fortement inégalitaires de coexister. La maladie et la réponse humanitaire ont déstabilisé les accommodations sociales qui s’étaient établies entre les pratiques funéraires existante et la médecine hospitalière, les structures politiques locales et l’assujettissement politique externe, les intérêts miniers et les communautés et enfin entre ceux suspectés de “sorcellerie” et ceux qui les suspecte.

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