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Fighting Ebola in Liberia

(Image credit: John Moore / Getty Images).

The photograph here dates from 20 August, 2014.  On that day, members of the Ebola Task Force, made up of Liberian police and soldiers, erected a classic "cordon sanitaire" around Monrovia's poorest neighborhood.  After more than a decade of US-led training and restructuring, a relationship officially referred to as a security partnership, the Liberian armed forces' response to ebola was to undertake the most draconian of urban operations.  Despite having war-gamed crowd control techniques in the event of an urban disease outbreak, the new Liberian armed forces responded to an actual emergency with an urban military operation that resulted in mass panic, riots, the beating of West Point residents and at least one death when shots were fired by soldiers into the crowd.  These events - and this image - prompt a series of questions: Who does the actual labor of "militarism"?  Why does urban warfare remain the operational mode even when security forces are deployed into non-combat emergencies?  What security fantasies structure the relationship between US operators and their African partners? 

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Participant: Danny HOFFMAN
Dept. of Anthropology | University of Washington
Presentation: Geometry after the Circle: Security interventions in the Urban Gray Zone