Background Examining press coverage of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, this article analyzes the work of the hazmat suit as a visual signifier of disease. Analysis Hazmat imagery from Africa operated to make the disease visible, both "othering" it and contributing to fantasies of containment. In American imagery, the suit became a figure of biosecurity and reassurance, while also connoting the prospect of American "diseaseability." Conclusion and implications African hazmat imagery reinforced pre-existing schema for understanding Ebola within a news category while American imagery straddled the boundary between the geography of disease fear and the imagined immunological community, potentially destabilizing press narratives of reassurance.

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Canadian Journal of Communication
Department of Sociology and Anthropology

Gerlach, N. (2019). Visualizing Ebola: Hazmat suit imagery, the press, and the production of biosecurity. Canadian Journal of Communication, 44(2), 191–210. doi:10.22230/cjc.2019v44n2a3341