Anthropology and Ethnology Open Access Journal (AEOAJ)

ISSN: 2639-2119

Investigation Paper

History of Epidemic Response in South Asia: Challenges and Lessons for Covid-19

Authors: Sanaullah K*

DOI: 10.23880/oajvsr-16000148


The experience of Covid-19 and the efforts made by countries in South Asia to control the number of cases is reminiscent of colonial policies toward the management of cities, epidemics and public hygiene. Although new technologies of surveillance to contact-trace populations have emerged, the dispensing of care through the use of the law enforcement shows the interrelation between medicine and violence. The lasting legacies of using cities as the locus of public health interventions during colonial times shows how closely questions of health and citizenship are linked in contemporary South Asia, with lack of adherence to health protocols resulting in the stereotyping of social groups based on religion, race and ethnicity who also increasingly experience police brutality. The management of the city historically reveals the nexus between global capitalism and international humanitarianism operating through the post-colonial state. These organizations co-opt the state in devising frameworks of disease eradication based on the idea of making economically independent individuals as the standard for health. The article considers how such histories can allow us to reflect on the short-comings of government policy in the ongoing pandemic in South Asia in order to move toward pro-poor emergency responses.

Keywords: Covid-19; Colonialism; Epidemic; South Asia; Humanitarianism

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