Risk, modernity and the H5N1 virus in action in Indonesia A multi‐sited study of the threats of avian and human pandemic influenza

Forster, William Paul (2012) Risk, modernity and the H5N1 virus in action in Indonesia A multi‐sited study of the threats of avian and human pandemic influenza. Doctoral thesis (DPhil), University of Sussex.

PDF - Published Version
Download (3MB) | Preview


This thesis examines the Influenza A/H5N1 virus in action through an ethnographic study focused on the entwined concepts of risk and modernity. The objective is to explain why the response to the virus has been challenged in Indonesia. Concerned with policy formulation, and everyday practice, the thesis argues that assemblages of historical, political, institutional and knowledge‐power processes create multiple hybrid constructions of risk and modernity, which challenge technical responses based on epistemological positions and institutional arrangements that do not allow for such hybridity.

The thesis is organised into four sections. The first section (chapters 1 – 3) introduces the virus and its terrain, outlines a constructivist position, and argues that conceptually risk and modernity have multiple, dynamic, power‐laden forms. The second section (chapters 4 – 6) contrasts constructions of risk and modernity among the actors and networks responding to the emergence, spread and persistence of the H5N1 virus, with the constructions of affected people in Indonesia. The third section (chapters 7 – 9) investigates the multi‐directional processes that occur when ‘global’ policies and practices encounter ‘local’ social and political settings, and vice versa, through three empirical case studies of the response to H5N1 in Indonesia between 2005 and 2010.

The final section (chapter 10) provides a set of reflections and conclusions. Given the conceptual plurality of risk and modernity, and the multiple overlapping interacting hybrid
constructions that have been empirically demonstrated in the case of H5N1, it is concluded that reductive, science‐based, governmentally‐orientated responses which treat nature as a
matter of separate, fixed identity do not allow for such hybridity. The virus in action in Indonesia shows that any divide between nature and society is artificial and deceiving. Technical disease control responses need to incorporate understandings which accept the dynamics of culture, politics, and power

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: Institute of Development Studies
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS History of Asia > DS520 Southeast Asia > DS611 Indonesia (Dutch East Indies)
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0109 Infectious and parasitic diseases
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 04 Apr 2012 12:20
Last Modified: 25 Aug 2015 13:41
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/38647

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update