BEYOND LIFE OR DEATH: AFTERLIVES OF PANDEMICS PAST AND PRESENT

Lauren MacIvor Thompson's picture

H-Disability list members may be interested in the following program, sponsored by the National Council on Public History:  “Beyond Life or Death: Afterlives of Pandemics Past and Present,” which is scheduled to take place between 3 – 4:30 pm EST on November 21st via Zoom (CART captioning will be available).

More information and the registration link can be found here: https://ncph.org/conference/other-programs/virtual-programs/beyond-life-or-death-afterlives-of-pandemics-past-and-present/

As we write this, it is now the second week of October 2020, and it has been about 40 weeks since a new coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, China. From the WHO to universities and local communities in the US, the spread of this pandemic has been measured primarily in terms of positive viral and antibody test results, deaths, hospitalizations, and recoveries. Meanwhile, very little has been done to understand what it means to “recover” from this complex virus. Stories of pandemics past – from the 1918 influenza pandemic, to the mid-century polio epidemic, to the emergence of HIV in the 1980s – all suggest we can expect lasting consequences in how we individually and collectively experience, think about, and define health, illness, and disability.

We invite you to explore with us how paying attention to disability stories and frameworks in the midst and aftermath of epidemics might help us expand the kinds of questions we as scholars and public historians can ask now about the unfolding crisis of COVID-19. We anticipate a conversation that will start to explore a greater range of questions than the language of “mild cases” or “recovered” can engender. Ultimately our program invites participants to think with us about what forms of attention and individual and collective meaning making and care might be made possible through a disability-informed public history lens on COVID-19.