The Bullitt Club Lecture Series will welcome Noémi Tousignant, a guest researcher from the Université de Montréal, as she presents, “Globalizing Measles in 1960s West Africa.”
Tousignant asks: “Is measles a single, universal disease or many, highly localized pathologies? This is a question for historical investigation, not only into epidemiological trends but also into the politics and practices of measles research and prevention during the “vaccine era” – that is, from the end of the 1950s.”
Tousignant will describe in particular one of the first episodes of this history, during which West Africa was at the heart of transnational debates about the value of the new measles vaccines. Some of the first trials and mass uses of these vaccines happened in West African places, which had just acquired political independence and where measles had been recently “discovered” to be a major cause of infant and child mortality. Tousignant will identify a few reasons for this and reflect on the consequences not only for West African immunity, but also for the emergence of new ways of framing the value of African life, the severity and preventability of measles, and responsibility – at the family, state and international level – for vaccinating children.