Merle and Lee talk to Christos Lynteris, a medical anthropologist, on the Third Pandemic of Plague and its impact across the globe between 1894 and 1959. The pandemic is discussed in terms of its origins, spread and social, political and epistemological consequences, but also in terms of establishing the notion of the pandemic in medicine and beyond. Christos offers insights into the long-lasting legacies of the pandemic, including the development of the scientific study of zoonosis, epidemic photography, and various technologies of epidemic control.
Merle and Lee talk to Thomas Zimmer, a scholar of global public health, on how the nations of the world developed public health after World War Two and how they attempted to stop the spread of infectious diseases. They talk about how the World Health Organization attempted to eliminate diseases, particularly malaria, and why these efforts ran into problems. Thomas offers insights into how these mid-20th century issues shape how we approach global public health today and the many problems the politicization of public health entails. Merle and Lee conclude the episode by reflecting on the importance of understanding the 20th century history of global public health for scholarship on pre-modern pandemics as well.
Merle and Lee discuss how historical research is conducted today, in an episode aimed at a general audience. How do scholars decide to study a topic? What are primary and secondary sources, and how do historians use them? What are some of the other sources historians study other than texts? Throughout the episode, Merle and Lee use their own research experience as an example and reflect upon some of the challenges they encountered.
Merle and Lee discuss how the environment we live in has an impact on how the Coronavirus Pandemic spreads with Fushcia Hoover. They talk about how existing structural problems have made the pandemic worse in African-American and other communities and why simply telling people to socially isolate and behave better ignores all these issues. Fushcia also discusses some short and long term ways to solve some of these structural problems. Merle and Lee conclude the episode by reflecting on the similar points raised in the two recent episodes on inequality and environmental justice during the ongoing pandemic.
Image credit: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan
Michelle Smirnova, a sociologist (University of Missouri, Kansas City), joins Merle and Lee to discuss some of the present-day effects of COVID-19 in the US. They cover the differential effects of COVID-19 on disadvantaged populations in the US, the US health system and the administration's stance towards infectious diseases, and touch upon some of the challenges involved in providing precise statistics.
Image credit: IDB
Quarantine in many countries around the world continues, preventing many from celebrating Passover, the first of three major holidays in April (followed by Easter and Ramadan). Abigail Agresta joins Merle and Lee to discuss the most infamous pandemic in history - the Black Death. After some general background on the Black Death, Abigail discusses her own work on plague in Valencia, a topic on which she has recently published an article (link in the show notes on our website), as well as contemporary reactions to the Black Death and minority scapegoating (or lack thereof).
Many of us are self-isolating and social distancing at home during the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic in a modern form of quarantine. Merle and Lee speak with the leading expert on historical quarantine in the 19th century, Alex Chase-Levenson to learn how quarantine developed, how it worked, and whether it was effective. They also discuss similarities and differences between the past and the present.
Merle and Lee discuss the late antique Justinianic Plague (c. 541-750), also known as the first plague pandemic. They cover the current consensus about plague first, and then offer their reinterpretation, together with some ideas for further research.
Merle and Lee talk about the scientific and medical background to the plague describing the bacterium, Yersinia pestis, and how it sickens and kills humans. They offer an overview of the 3 historical plague pandemics, where we can find plague today, and touch upon the obsession with plague in popular culture.
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continues to spread, in this short episode hosts Merle Eisenberg and Lee Mordechai discuss the reasons for launching a new podcast now, begin to consider how historical diseases might help us think about our present, and outline some of the upcoming podcast episodes.