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What was Epidemiology? New Perspectives of an Undisciplines Field

29. April – 10. Juni 2021 

Indi­vidu­elles Textfeld

With Susanne Bauer (Uni­ver­si­ty of Oslo), Adia Ben­ton (North­west­ern Uni­ver­si­ty), Tama­ra Giles-Ver­nick (Insti­tut Pas­teur), Chris­tos Lyn­teris (St. Andrews Uni­ver­si­ty), Gra­ham Mooney (Johns Hop­kins University)

This workshop’s over­ar­ch­ing ques­tion is: What was Epi­demi­ol­o­gy? We will open a forum for cre­ative explo­rations of a new his­to­ri­og­ra­phy of epi­demi­ol­o­gy in the long twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry (1890 – 2010). Giv­en our Covid present, the workshop’s ques­tion will prompt reflec­tions on the val­ue of this his­to­ry with­in an ongo­ing pandemic.
The sci­ence of epi­demi­ol­o­gy has, as Nature under­lined in a recent edi­to­r­i­al, shaped the world’s respons­es to Covid. But the pan­dem­ic has also shown the field of epi­demi­ol­o­gy to have under­gone sub­stan­tial trans­for­ma­tion over the last cen­tu­ry. From ear­ly 2020, infec­tious dis­ease mod­el­ling was charged with giv­ing sci­en­tif­ic jus­ti­fi­ca­tion to lock­downs and ‘stay at home orders’, while trust­ed assump­tions about the pre­pared­ness of the West became dan­ger­ous fal­lac­i­es. Dash­boards enabled ‘now­cast­ing’ of the pan­dem­ic, and a new crowd of ‘arm­chair epi­demi­ol­o­gists’ dis­trib­uted their insights on social media. The tech­no-sci­en­tif­ic dream of over­com­ing the cri­sis through vac­cines is con­found­ed by ‚hes­i­tan­cy’ and vac­cine nation­al­ism has left ide­al con­di­tions for viral mutation.

We invite con­tri­bu­tions from a wide range of dis­ci­pli­nary back­grounds to con­nect ongo­ing trans­for­ma­tions in the his­to­ry of the field of epi­demi­ol­o­gy. Papers might spec­u­late about the field’s porous bound­aries between the nat­ur­al and social sci­ences, or engage with the long his­to­ry of epi­demi­ol­o­gy as a con­test­ed sci­en­tif­ic prac­tice. Par­tic­i­pants are invit­ed to expand a pre­vi­ous­ly nar­row his­to­ry of a med­ical sub-dis­ci­pline, and expand on his­to­ries of epi­demi­o­log­i­cal knowl­edge across eco­nom­ics, soci­ol­o­gy, anthro­pol­o­gy, demog­ra­phy and beyond. It is long over­due to rethink this his­to­ry beyond the Anglo-Amer­i­can realm. Con­tri­bu­tions that unpack South Amer­i­can, African and Asian his­to­ries of epi­demi­o­log­i­cal rea­son­ing in colo­nial and post-colo­nial frames are par­tic­u­lar­ly welcome.

Poten­tial top­ics could include:

- Race, Sex and Gen­der in epi­demi­o­log­i­cal data, prac­tice and the­o­ry
- Colo­nial her­itage of epi­demi­o­log­i­cal gov­er­nance, impe­r­i­al epi­demi­ol­o­gy and glob­al health
- The shift­ing role of math­e­mat­i­cal exper­tise in epi­demi­ol­o­gy
- Data sci­ence, data prac­tices and data infra­struc­tures
- Bound­aries between glob­al and pub­lic health, med­ical anthro­pol­o­gy and social epi­demi­ol­o­gy
- Epi­demi­ol­o­gy out of bounds (social/emotional con­ta­gion, epi­demi­ol­o­gy of vio­lence and crime)
- Infec­tious dis­ease dynam­ics, ecol­o­gy and epi­demi­o­log­ic the­o­ry, zoono­sis and one-health
- Social deter­mi­nants of health in the dig­i­tal age

The work­shop will be facil­i­tat­ed online from the 14th to 17th of June 2021 and will enable both syn­chro­nous and asyn­chro­nous par­tic­i­pa­tion. Researchers who have con­clud­ed their PhD with­in the last 5 years and cur­rent PhD stu­dents are all wel­come. Please get in touch if you would like to par­tic­i­pate but do not fit neat­ly with­in these para­me­ters. Please send an abstract of 250 words and a short bio note to by 9th April 2021, and do get in touch with any questions.