The critical role that epidemiologists and epidemiology play in global health today has been the focus of a growing body of work in the social sciences and humanities. A lot of this work has been concerned with how epidemiologists have transformed the government of international health efforts over the last 30 years, from innovative techniques to calculate life to new forms of accountability. In contrast to this work, the present chapter examines how political and social theories have shaped epidemiological imaginaries. A few scholars have started to explore this question. The present chapter builds on this burgeoning body of work and examines how modernisation theory, which dominated the field of international development during decolonisation, informs the way epidemiologists and public health experts have imagined the African smoking epidemic.
This essay was published in: Vaughan, M., Adjaye-Gbewonyo, K. and M. Mika, Eds., Epidemiological Change and Chronic Disease in Sub-Saharan Africa: Social and Historical Perspectives. London: University College London Press, 133-161.