Ebola at a distance: a pathographic account of anthropology’s relevance

Adia Benton*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Drawing on a year of researching and writing about the West African Ebola epidemic from afar, I use the heuristic of virality to critically examine the collective US anthropology response to Ebola, a viral disease, and the anthropological knowledge networks formed to address the 2013– 2015 outbreak. Specifically, I describe how digital media facilitated an entry point to build connections and knowledge around the epidemic in American anthropologists’ quest to prove the discipline’s relevance, the viral circulations of and replications of anthropological ideas in the Ebola response, and the attempts to shed pathogenic racial legacies of Africanist anthropology shaping US anthropology’s official response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number663624
Pages (from-to)495-524
Number of pages30
JournalAnthropological Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Ebola
  • History of anthropology
  • Inequality
  • Marginalization
  • Racism
  • Relevance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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