The Histories and Politics of Pandemics: Medical Humanities Workshop

This interdisciplinary workshop will discuss the histories and politics of pandemics, with a particular focus on colonialism and South Asia. Dr Kavita Sivaramakrishnan (Columbia University) will discuss ‘Rethinking the Politics of Immunity and Care in Colonial and Post-Colonial India (1900-1960s)’, in which she will explore the shifting social meanings of immunity and health as a critical conceptual contribution to understanding crises and care in colonial and post-colonial India. Based on colonial and post-colonial case studies, she will trace how the state and experts have tried to teach, invoke, and shape immunological and health discourses, to shape adaptable and productive labour and capital. How have these ideas and interventions about immune and susceptible bodies circulated, been invoked, stigmatized and resisted in the public sphere? The talk will examine the case of the decades of the plague pandemic South India and post-colonial, industrial projects to trace these questions.

Using Dr Sivaramakrishnan’s talk as a case study, the workshop will examine and query histories of pandemics and public health, especially in colonial contexts, as well as the politics of pandemics. It will ask what can be learnt from methodological interventions in histories of colonialism, disease, and health for histories of post-colonial crises inside and outside the erstwhile colonies.

Free to attend: refreshments provided; registration required.