This paper seeks to understand the fear many Guineans feel towards Ebola response initiatives and why the educators, doctors and burial teams have sometimes encountered resistance, occasionally violent. Resistance has been catastrophic for the epidemic, preventing treatment, contact tracing and quarantine, permitting its spread. The paper sketches a history of dissent and violence during the epidemic before showing how some actions that Ebola response teams interpret as ‘resistance’ are less actions ‘against’ Ebola response, than actions that have their own cultural logics. But the paper then considers how resistance emerges as cultural sensitivities play into divisive ethnic and related party-political tensions relations, and the interpretive grids through which people make sense of politicians and the ‘white’ world. The analysis calls into question the social distance between the institutions of epidemic response and the communities affected, and the politicisation of health delivery where political parties are read as ethnically aligned.
James Fairhead / 2015