Article ID: CBB884806812

Epidemics Have Lost the Plot (2020)


This article draws on Charles Rosenberg's classic essay "What Is an Epidemic?" (1989) to reflect on the complex narrative structures and temporalities of epidemics as they are experienced and storied. We begin with an analysis of Rosenberg's use of Albert Camus's The Plague and a discussion of how epidemics have been modeled in literature and in epidemiology concomitantly. Then, we argue that Charles Rosenberg's characterization of epidemics as events bounded in time that display narrative and epidemiological purity fails to account for the reinvention of life within health crises. Adopting the ecological, archaeological, and anthropological perspectives developed within African studies enriches the range of available plots, roles, and temporal sequences and ultimately transforms our way of depicting epidemics. Instead of events oriented toward their own closure, epidemics might be approached as unsettling, seemingly endless periods during which life has to be recomposed.

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Authors & Contributors
Jannetta, Ann Bowman
Gramlich-Oka, Bettina
Fantini, Bernardino
Honigsbaum, Mark
Vanzan Marchini, Nelli-Elena
Hammond, Mitchell Lewis
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine
Dynamis: Acta Hispanica ad Medicinae Scientiarumque Historiam Illustrandam
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Science in Context
I. B. Tauris
Cierre edizioni
University of Toronto Press
University of Illinois Press
Public health
Medicine and society
Rosenberg, Charles E.
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
21st century
20th century
17th century
20th century, late
South Asia

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