Andrea Bagnato, fellow of Het Nieuwe Instituut 2016
The Western Guinea region where the 2014 Ebola epidemic began. These infrared satellite images (taken in 1985, 2002, and 2016) show a clear depletion of forest cover (red) and an expansion of towns and villages (light grey). Data: Landsat/USGS.
Andrea Bagnato (1986) practiced architecture before focusing on research and editing. He studied at TU Delft and at the Centre for Research Architecture in London, where he also assisted in the making of the Forensis exhibition and book. As part of Space Caviar, he edited SQM: The Quantified Home (Lars Müller, 2014). He has subsequently been member of the curatorial team and publications manager for the first Chicago Architecture Biennial, editing the forthcoming book The State of the Art of Architecture (Lars Müller, 2016). He also won a Graham Foundation grant 2017. Andrea currently lives in Berlin.
Terra Infecta is an investigation of how infectious diseases (in particular malaria and yellow fever) have influenced historical patterns of inhabitation and land use, especially within colonial environments. In parallel, it studies global anthropogenic transformations (urbanisation, deforestation, resource extraction) in terms of their consequences at the microscopic scale, laying the ground for an epidemiological history of modernity. The text 'Mapping Malaria in Italy' is part of the Terra Infecta project, carried out during Bagnato's fellowship at Het Nieuwe Insttiuut, and started at the Centre for Research Architecture.
"[…] As author Sonia Shah shows in her recent book Pandemic, tracing the history of an infectious disease reveals that events at the microscopic scale (an infection) are very often correlated with a transformation of the macroscopic spatial conditions (colonization, urbanization, global trade). In more general terms, recent scientific research is providing substance to the argument that geographer Maurice Le Lannou proposed already in 1936 while studying malaria in Southern Europe: that epidemics are sensitive indicators, responses to anthropogenic ecological disruptions. Both ancient and recent epidemics are being linked with abrupt demographic and territorial reconfigurations.
The recent epidemic of Ebola in West Africa (2014–2016) has caused 11,000 deaths to date. Its scale caught scientists by surprise, since previous Ebola cases had been limited to smaller outbreaks in Central Africa. So why now, and why in West Africa? According to Dr. Daniel G. Bausch and other experts familiar with the area, the region of Guinea where the epidemic began has underwent massive deforestation in recent decades – as well as an influx of displaced people from nearby Liberia and Sierra Leone. […] Understanding the spatial and political context in which infectious diseases unfold was a central preoccupation of Western medicine in the early twentieth century. […] Today, the unprecedented extent of anthropogenic activity has created the conditions for a new range of epidemics, of which HIV and Ebola are but the most visible occurrences. The necessity of (re)incorporating space, politics and history in tackling epidemic diseases can no longer be ignored."