Diseased Identities: How the American Media Constructed the 2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa
Appleby, Margaret Fannon
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This thesis explores representations of Africans in the American media coverage of the 2014 Ebola outbreak and the differing policy solutions they sometimes elicit. I hypothesize that there is a connection between identity construction and policy solutions that can be explored along two major trajectories. First, I find sources that prefer "othering" stereotypes of Africans in their coverage often produce "securitized" solutions. I explore this trend through literature that links identity, geography, and infectious diseases constructing an image of an "infectious other". From the "French" disease to the "Spanish" flu, the association of disease and geography is a longstanding one that again is manifested with the Ebola virus (Harrison 2014). "Othered" from "civilized" and healthy populations, the people that inhabited these "dangerous" and "infected" areas became similarly stereotyped. In comparison to the first category, I find sources in the second trajectory that undertake a societal and structural analysis of the outbreak often favor approaches aimed at improving access to healthcare for the affected populations. Doctor Paul Farmer's work informs this section of examination. I conclude the thesis by briefly posing a few questions for future research as well as examining the Ebola virus in relation to the Zika virus.
- Masters Theses