Centre for Global Health Policy

Professorial Lecture: Contagion: Disease, security and the politics of fear

As we embark upon the 21st century, the world appears to confront an epidemic of epidemics. From HIV/AIDS and SARS, via anthrax terrorism scares, through to avian (H5N1) and swine flu (H1N1) – the threat of infectious diseases is generating high-level concern around the world. So much so that governments now routinely identify pandemics as major security threats – frequently placed on par with terrorism. But to what extent do infectious diseases threaten security? What are the political implications of framing health issues as security threats? And what are the institutional and commercial interests driving the rise of health security? Drawing upon prominent examples from recent years, the lecture uncovers how the rise of health security is bringing about crucial changes in how we think about and practice security in the 21st century. It concludes by considering the implications of this ‘medicalization’ of security for us as citizens (and patients).

There will be tea and coffee served from 6pm and the lecture will be followed by a wine reception.  All welcome.

Stefan Elbe is Director of the Centre for Global Health Policy and Professor of International Relations in the Department of International Relations at the University of Sussex. His is currently the Principal Investigator on a four-year €1.2 million grant from the European Research Council (2013-2017) and has served as an expert scientific advisor to the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

The New Security Challenges Speaker Series, brings key academic experts and practitioners in the broad field of international security to the University of Sussex in order to share multi-disciplinary insights into the complexities of contemporary international relations.