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International relations and epidemics: a short expedition to places inhabited by states and mad cows

, : International relations and epidemics: a short expedition to places inhabited by states and mad cows. Medicine, Conflict, and Survival 15(3): 235-254

The complex process of co-evolution between humans, their social structures and biological disease agents have from time to time established relationships between the three. Recently, one such set of paths has opened up faster and closer global connections. As new and more inclusive approaches emerge from the shadow of strict intra-disciplinary containment, it is tempting to formulate the relationship between epidemics and international relations in new terms deriving from new metaphors. The argument that components central to international relations (state, sovereignty, power) do not associate with disease can be viewed sceptically. Throughout history, epidemics have had a direct impact on political interaction by vindicating, weakening, testing, and moulding international relations. This paper examines the past relationships between epidemics and international relations, and illustrates these interactions with the example of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (mad cow disease) and its link with human Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.


PMID: 10472191

DOI: 10.1080/13623699908409461

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