Subproject A08 — Administrating Transnational Health Crises: Security Routines and the Regulation of Dynamics of Contagion
second funding stage (2018-2021)
For about two decades a global health security dispositif has taken shape in dealing with Emerging Infectious Diseases such as SARS, Avian Influenza, Ebola or, most recently, SARS-CoV-2. Our research project investigates the interrelation between the modes of perceiving transnational health crises and the modes of acting on them in the field of global law and administration. On the one hand, it analyses the security-related problematisations of the transnational dimension of health crises, e.g. in terms of border control, medical care, shared expertise or trade restrictions (heuristics). On the other hand, it focuses on the administrative regulations and techniques applied to cope with health crises (repertoire).
In dealing with emergencies and crises international Political Sociology has prominently invoked the analytic of a “state of exception”. In this framework, the suspension of rules, norms and routines, is considered to be the defining feature of situations of existential threat. Our research project seeks to test the supplementary hypothesis – that the problematisation of crises may also generate rules and procedures that stabilise routines of security. It asks: How are administrative protocols of security being activated, produced or modified during crisis situations? This question is addressed in two case studies.
The first case study tests the hypothesis that the Ebola crisis of 2014 constitutes a rupture within the preparedness regime of global health security by re-inscribing the problem of infrastructural stability into the agenda of Global Health Security. It traces the administrative and legal forms of governing pandemics unfolding from the International Health Regulations (2005) and linked procedures that secure their implementation into national health systems. A key procedure in this regard is the international format of the World Health Organization’s Joint External Evaluations (JEE), which has been launched in light of the West African Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak from 2014.
The second case study analyses how the problematisation of antimicrobial resistance corresponds with the emergence of new administrative assemblages. The action plans put forward by the European Commission (2011) and the WHO (2015) indicate an ecological turn in understanding health and disease security. Accordingly, the case study seeks to investigate the ways in which the material circulations between humans, animals, plants, soil and the hydrological circle enter the field of legal administrative practice: How do the routines of health security become entwined with the protocols of environmental security?
In sum, the research project aims at investigating the juris-generative effects of global health crises. Instead of a priori identifying emergency situations with “legal black holes”, it is interested in how they also function as regulatory laboratories in which administrative assemblages are being developed and tested. The project therefore explores administrative media and juridical protocols designed to make the government of health security operative: procedural systems and classificatory schemes, acts of writing and forms of registration, certificates and standards are key in assembling a governmental topology in a planetary political environment. This change in analytical perspective will contribute to elucidating the latest transformations of global health security.