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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton September 29, 2011


  • Kathryn Staiano-Ross EMAIL logo
From the journal


Disease is never truly a thing, but always an event. It is polysemic, multilayered, historically full, and dynamic. It is constructed over time and encumbered with interpretants according to the needs and preconceptions of those who argue they search only for the truth. The act of quarantining an individual or a community is an expression of governmental power, equal in its effect and the strength of its narrative to the government's authority to institutionalize the mentally ill, deprive criminals of their liberty, and draft individuals to serve in the armed forces. Power flows from and accrues to those who have been granted the right to identify and group those bodily “signs” that designate someone as dangerous. The public will likely be faced many times with a potentially fatal and infectious disease that requires that we identify and isolate those considered dangerous; we will once again face the ethical dilemma of how to choose between individual rights and the public's safety. Who is to be isolated from the balance of society, for what period of time, and under what conditions, may depend more on the individual's social, economic, and political status and categorization as “other” than upon his/her actual threat to the public's health.

Published Online: 2011-09-29
Published in Print: 2011-October

© 2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston

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