Studying epidemics provides a privileged window for examining broader questions of social inequalities and the ways in which institutions reproduce or transform them. However, focusing just on the epidemic crisis during emergencies fails to acknowledge that the very definition of an epidemic depends on the work of epidemiologists during the times when there are no ongoing declared epidemic emergencies. During the inter-crisis periods, epidemiologists work on defining what will count as an epidemiological emergency in the future and how it will be addressed. At the same time, epidemiologists' work is defined by the dominant ideologies of epidemiology in a specific context. Therefore, in order to understand the epidemiologic crisis, one should also study epidemiologic work in normal times and the underlying ideologies that define it. In this paper, I contrast the work of Guatemalan epidemiologists during epidemic crisis and in “normal” times. I argue that both kinds of work are linked through the ideologies of epidemiology they embody.

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