Kuru, Prions, and Human Affairs: Thinking About Epidemics

  title={Kuru, Prions, and Human Affairs: Thinking About Epidemics},
  author={Shirley Lindenbaum},
  journal={Annual Review of Anthropology},
  • S. Lindenbaum
  • Published 1 October 2001
  • History
  • Annual Review of Anthropology
▪ Abstract The study of epidemics provides a unique point of entry for examining the relationships among cultural assumptions, institutional forms, and states of mind. The Black Death is said to have contributed to the emergence of nation states, the rise of mercantile economies, and the religious movements that led to the Reformation. It may also have brought about new ways of understanding God, the meaning of death, and the role of authority in religious and social life. Cholera induced a… 
Epidemiology and Culture: Anthropological Contributions to the Study of Cholera
Outbreak investigations are a classic method in epidemiology; they have determined the causes of new epidemics such as Legionnaires' disease, Hanta virus, Ebola virus, SARS, and E. coli O157:H7.
Medical populism and the politics of dengue epidemics in the Global South.
The concept of 'medical populism' is used to analyse the political construction of the 2019 dengue epidemics in Bangladesh, the Philippines, and Honduras by reconstructing how political actors simplified the discourse, spectacularised the crises, offered multiple knowledge claims, and forged divisions between the people and 'dangerous others.
Ecologies of evidence in a mysterious epidemic
An epidemic in a Venezuelan rainforest in 2007–2008 killed thirty-eight children and young adults, puzzling clinicians, epidemiologists, and healers alike for over a year. This essay traces the way
Prion Diseases
Kuru, the first human transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, was transmitted to chimpanzees in the D. Carleton Gajdusek (1923–2008) laboratory. In this review, we briefly summarize the history of
Kuru, the First Human Prion Disease †
The discovery of kuru opened new vistas of human medicine and was pivotal in the subsequent transmission of Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease, as well as the relevance that bovine spongiform encephalopathy had for transmission to humans.
Tainted commons, public health: the politico-moral significance of cholera in Vietnam.
  • M. Lincoln
  • Sociology, Medicine
    Medical anthropology quarterly
  • 2014
Prevalent outbreak narratives played on anxieties regarding specifically classed and gendered social groups, whose behavior was imagined to contravene ideals of public health and order, and allowed the state to assume moral postures, evade responsibility, and deflect criticism to convenient targets.
The politics of bird flu: The battle over viral samples and China’s role in global public health
Avian influenza outbreaks in Southeast Asia have focused an intense global spotlight on the entire region, specifically on China’s role in an adequate global health network which would be able to
Neocolonial epidemiology
The relationship between public health practice and the fulfilment of the right to health is often assumed to be synergistic. With the goal of understanding how exactly this relationship happens, I
The shifting sands of uncertainty: Risk construction and BSE/vCJD
Two scientific narratives of risk are revisited, forged at different points along the developmental pathway of BSE science, including a series of advisory reports provided to the UK government between 1989 and 1994 and a symposium held in 2001 to assess the impact of the Phillips Inquiry.
Avian Flu and Embodied Global Imagery: A Study of Pandemic Geopolitics in the Media
Avian influenza is caused by viruses adapted to birds. The causative agents can, in rare cases, spread to humans, although no human-to-human transmission has been demonstrated. However, the mere


Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
International relations and epidemics: a short expedition to places inhabited by states and mad cows.
  • M. Aaltola
  • History, Medicine
    Medicine, conflict, and survival
  • 1999
The past relationships between epidemics and international relations are examined, and the example of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (mad cow disease) and its link with human Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is illustrated.
Kuru and cannibalism.
The Trembling Mountain: A Personal Account of Kuru, Cannibals, and Mad Cow Disease
Robert Klitzman was 21 years old when he was invited by the Nobel prize-winning scientist Dr. Carleton Gajdusek to conduct original research on kuru, and embarked on an adventure that would change his life.
No Magic Bullet: A Social History of Venereal Disease in the United States Since 1880
From Victorian anxieties about syphilis to the current hysteria over herpes and AIDS, the history of venereal disease in America forces us to examine social attitudes as well as purely medical
AIDS and Accusation: Haiti and the Geography of Blame
Does the scientific "theory" that HIV came to North America from Haiti stem from underlying attitudes of racism and ethnocentrism in the USA rather than from hard evidence? Anthropologist-physician
How to have theory in an epidemic
Paula A. Treichler has become a singularly important voice among the significant theorists on the AIDS crisis. Dissecting the cultural politics surrounding representations of HIV and AIDS, her work
The Possession of Kuru: Medical Science and Biocolonial Exchange
  • W. Anderson
  • Medicine, History
    Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • 2000
In the field, Gajdusek had become enmeshed in a complex and fragile web of relationships with the Fore in order to acquire specimens that, through further exchanges with senior colleagues, might yet make his scientific reputation.
Epidemics and Ideas Essays on the Historical Perception of Pestilence
1. Introduction Paul Slack 2. Epidemic, ideas and classical Athenian society James Longrigg 3. Disease, dragons and saints: the management of epidemics in the Dark Ages Peregrine Horden 4. Epidemic
How now mad cow?
The lack of evidence of spongiform encephalopathy spreading in cows suggests that cows are an end host for the disease, which will die out over the next few years given the precautions already taken, and imply that the risks of mutated bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy cannot be ruled out.