The Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza A(H5N1) Virus: a twenty-year journey of narratives and (in)secure landscapes
Egert, Philip Rolly
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This dissertation is comprised of two manuscripts that explore various contestations and representations of knowledge about the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1virus. In the first manuscript, I explore three narratives that have been produced to describe the 20-year journey of the virus. The journey begins in 1996 when the virus was a singular localized animal virus but then over the next 20 years multiplied its ontological status through a (de)stabilized global network of science and politics that promoted both fears of contagion and politics of otherness. Written by and for powerful actors and institutions in the global North, the narratives focused on technical solutions and outbreak fears. In doing so, the narratives produced policies and practices of biopower that obscured alternative considerations for equity, social justice, and wellbeing for the marginalized groups most directly affected by the H5N1 virus. The second manuscript explores a unique aspect of the H5N1 virus's journey as an emerging infectious disease ��" its representation as a potential weapon for bioterrorists. The US government's recent attempt to secure what constitutes H5N1 knowledge produced a global debate between scientists and policy makers over how to balance the nation-state's desire for security with the life science's tradition of openly shared research. Known as the dual-use dilemma, this debate set up binaries of impossible reconciliation between the two groups. This dissertation argues that the dual-use dilemma obscures larger questions of justice. I propose a new concept of justice, knowledge justice, as an alternate more globally inclusive framework for exploring ways out of the dilemma. The concept is premised on the assertion that if knowledge is framed to obscure justice issues, then the justice questions of owning that knowledge can be used as a way out of the dual-use dilemma. Thus, knowledge becomes a question of justice that should be as important to policy makers as more traditional justice considerations of inequities in distribution, recognition, representation, and fairness.
- Doctoral Dissertations