The Political Life of an Epidemic: Cholera, Crisis and Citizenship in Zimbabwe

December 1st, 2021 - 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm PT

Online event

This talk will focus on the the social politics of inequality in Africa, through an examination of disease, public health, violence, and social suffering as organizing frameworks for both historical and contemporary case studies. Through a discussion of his recently published book, Professor Chigudu will discuss the political life of the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe, tracing the historical origins of the outbreak, examining the social pattern of its unfolding and impact, analyzing the institutional and communal responses to the disease, and marking the effects of its aftermath. Professor Chigudu reveals how this epidemic of a preventable disease had profound implications for political institutions and citizenship in Zimbabwe.

This event is hosted by Stanford Center for African Studies and co-sponsored by the Digital Civil Society Lab. Open to the public.


  • Simukai Chigudu - Simukai Chigudu is Associate Professor of African Politics at the Oxford Department of International Development and Fellow of St Antony’s College, Oxford University. He is the author of The Political Life of an Epidemic: Cholera, Crisis and Citizenship in Zimbabwe (Cambridge University Press, 2020), an examination of the social and political causes and consequences of Zimbabwe’s catastrophic cholera outbreak in 2008/09, the worst in African history. This monograph has won the Theodore J. Lowi First Book Award from the American Political Science Association. More generally, Simukai is interested in the social politics of inequality in Africa. He has conducted research in Zimbabwe, Uganda, The Gambia, and Tanzania, and has publications in several leading social science and medical journals. Prior to working in academia, Simukai was a medical doctor in the UK’s National Health Service. He holds a PhD in International Development from the Oxford University for which he was awarded the biennial Audrey Richards Prize for the best doctoral thesis in African Studies examined at a UK university. As a graduate student, Simukai was a founding member of Rhodes Must Fall in Oxford, and has become an engaged participant in public debates on the cultural politics of colonialism and racism often writing for The Guardian newspaper. Simukai is currently writing his first book for the trade, When Will We Be Free? Living in the Shadow of Empire and the Struggle for Decolonisation, which will be published by Crown in 2024. This book will combine memoir, political history and cultural criticism to show how colonialism continues to shape politics, society and culture in Africa and in Britain and to explore what it really means to decolonise.