This analysis of over a century of public health campaigns against human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness) in Angola aims to unravel the role of (utopian) dreams in global health. Attention to the emergence and use of concepts such as neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and ideas about elimination or eradication highlights how these concepts and utopian dreams are instrumental for the advancement of particular agendas in an ever-shifting field of global health. The article shows how specific representations of the elimination and eradication of diseases, framed over a century ago, continue to push Western views and politics of care onto others. This analysis generates insight into how global health and its politics of power functioned in Angola during colonialism and post-independence.
A Century of Anti–Human African Trypanosomiasis Campaigns in Angola
Jorge Varanda and Josenando Théophile
The 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris (COP21), December 2015, reached a consensus to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, including by “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change” (UN 2015: 22). The agreement has to pave the way for rules, modalities, and procedures and all Parties have to “recognize the importance of integrated, holistic and balanced non-market approaches being available to Parties to assist in the implementation of their nationally determined contribution, in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication, in a coordinated and effective manner, including through, inter alia, mitigation adaptation, finance, technology transfer and capacity building, as appropriate” (UN 2015: 24). Of interest to note is that sustainable development and poverty eradication seem to be presented as two sides of the same coin.
Imperial crisis and the millennium goals
Poverty is ‘big business’. Donor funds are set to increase substantially as the UN millennium targets—to eradicate extreme poverty and halve the number of people suffering from hunger by 2015—seem ever more out of reach. Small wonder that social science methods to assess levels of poverty and the results of development projects have become a hot issue, too. As much of the research on poverty directly feeds into policy making and donor strategies, people are rightly concerned about its quality. Anthropology has a stake in this debate: despite the hegemony of quantitative methods in development research, participatory rural appraisals and poverty assessments have always drawn upon anthropological methods. One might wonder what happens to these qualitative methods in research that aims to establish quantitative levels of poverty.
The Rule of Law—A Heuristic Perspective?
In the final article of this issue, Giovanni Polcini presents the Italian approach of the “rule of law,” promoted by its governmental institutions in multilateral fora on priority areas related to the struggle against global crime, drugs, money laundering, and terrorism. We must distinguish this from “rule by law.” According to Polcini, the first is dedicated—in order to pave the way for a just and fair society—to counter the abuse of power by authorities and to build new legally oriented societal circumstances. The latter may be used for political reasons to oppress or discriminate against people and avoid accountability under the guise of formality, legality, and legitimacy. It is argued that the rule of law delivers a concrete basis from which to eradicate poverty, to fight discrimination and exclusion, and to protect the environment, also by providing predictability.
Bodil Formark and Annelie Bränström Öhman
While we have been working on this themed issue the political talk about The Girl has entered a new phase in a global shift manifested both by the establishment of the International Day of the Girl and through the launching of various campaigns on themes such as: Give Girls an Education and Eradicate World Poverty. The necessity for such initiatives was cruelly illustrated by the violent attack on Pakistani girls’ rights activist Malala Yousafzai on her way home from school on 9 October 2012. Such blatant discrimination makes it difficult for us not to feel that we live in a privileged part of the world. The five Nordic nation states—Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden—are indeed often perceived by outsiders, too, as progressive countries that have come very far in achieving gender equality. However, although Nordic girlhood may appear in stark contrast to that of the millions of disadvantaged girls in the world, there are complexities and ambivalences beneath the surface of Nordic progressiveness that a reductive, comparative, and linear, framework fails to take into account.