Features

Untimely Ends and the Pandemic Imaginary

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It was one of those typical late spring afternoons in Beijing, when the desert sand blowing from the North begins to give way to an electric atmosphere more pregnant with thunder than rain. Seated on a covered leather-armchair, I tried to concentrate my attention away from the rasp of the polyethene sheet under me and repeat the question: So what …

Features

Never Ending Stories: Narrating Frozen Evidence of Infectious Epidemics Past

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Early Elegy: Smallpox
by Claudia Emerson

  • The world has certified itself rid of
  • all but the argument: to eradicate or not
  • the small stock of variola frozen,
  • quarantined—a dormancy it has
  • refused, just once, for a woman behind a sterile
  • lens, her glass slide a clearest, most
  • becoming pane. How could it resist slipping
  • away with her, that discrete first
Features

Where Has SARS Gone? The Strange Case of the Disappearing Coronavirus

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The emergence of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in China’s Guangdong Province in the winter of 2002 was an exemplary spillover event: it marked the passage of a lethal pathogen from nonhuman to human animals and was widely heralded as the first “plague” of the twenty-first century. The SARS coronavirus seemed to burst out of nowhere and demonstrated …

Features

After the End of Disease: Rethinking the Epidemic Narrative

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In conversations with people living with polio in Hungary, I often encountered members of the tight-knit community referring to themselves as “dinosaurs”. We are a breed that is about to die out, they said. Nobody gets polio anymore, some added, and they were right – epidemics, even sporadic wild polio cases disappeared from the country in the 1960s. Their words …

BooksFeatures

Book Forum––Carlo Caduff’s The Pandemic Perhaps

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Carlo Caduff’s The Pandemic Perhaps: Dramatic Events in a Public Culture of Danger (University of California Press, 2015) is a story of the influenza pandemic that never was. Caduff tells this story from an American perspective through his encounters with scientists and other actors who engage in the august work of “preparedness,” but in doing so, often draw upon …

Features

Post-Script, Still Longer Shadows: Guillaume Lachenal on “In the Shadow of Ebola”

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This commentary on Gregg Mitman and Sarita Siegel’s In the Shadow of Ebola is intended as a post-script to the forum on the film which appeared earlier this year. Lachenal prepared this text, written in Paris, for a special session of the African Studies Association meetings in San Diego on 20 November 2015.

The first time I saw the film, …