In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, five people were killed and another seventeen were injured from anthrax spores as part of a deliberate attack against members of the US media and Senate. Fears quickly spread that this was another incident of Islamic terrorism. As part of the US-led War on Terror, large sums of money and resources were mobilized in the name of biodefense and security, altering the ways in which medicine was practised on a domestic and global scale. However, it was quickly concluded that these spores originated in US labs, and the prime suspects were white male American scientists. In this episode, Professor Gwen D’Arcangelis observes how the anthrax scare and the current COVID-19 pandemic are part of a broader and ongoing history of American bio-imperialism.
GWEN D’ARCANGELIS is associate professor of Gender Studies at Skidmore College. Her scholarship centers on the socio-political dimensions of science, medicine, and public health. She has written articles on discourses of white scientific masculinity, gendered and Orientalist disease tropes, and nurse activism during the war on terror. Her newly released book, Bio-Imperialism: Disease, Terror, and the Construction of National Fragility, examines the gendered, raced, and imperial dimensions of U.S. focus on bioterror and germ threats.