Panel: How do epidemics end?
The Afterlives of Epidemics conference brings together participants under the theme of the Lifetimes of Epidemics project, to reflect upon the temporalities of epidemics.
Program for the day
16:00-16:15 Arrival and mingling
16:15-16:30 Welcome and introduction by Einar Wigen
16:30-17:30 Keynote lecture, Dora Vargha – No end in sight?
Chair: Einar Wigen
17:45-19:00 How do epidemics end? Conclusions and afterlives.
- Camilla Stoltenberg, Director General, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
- Dora Vargha, University of Exeter
- Erica Charters, University of Oxford
- Jeremy Greene, John Hopkins University
Meaning of Afterlives
The outbreak of an epidemic is often easy to locate in time. It takes the form of an event, and as such, it can function as a great synchroniser of different forms of lives and times. In the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, the high potential of geographic spread associated with assumed high case fatality, and ensuing political panic accelerated political processes that are usually slow due to the impending need to contain the virus. The end of an epidemic, on the other hand, is more difficult to pinpoint. This can be attributed to the fact that the myriad actors involved in and affected by an epidemic operate on diverging time scales. Although seemingly synchronised from its outset, these lifetimes become un-synchronised as the epidemic unfolds. Some effects of an epidemic are easily observed, such as infection rates and number of deceased. Others – psychological, social and medical aftereffects, subtle changes in political priorities, or the lasting memory in a population – may be harder to spot. Declaring that an epidemic has ‘ended’ usually relies on the ceasing of the former effects, not the latter. The ending(s) of an epidemic can be regarded in the plural, each operating within its own rhythm and scale. This conference explores the multiplicity of afterlives of epidemics – human, microbial, institutional, geographical – and how they affect not only life after a pandemic but also our ability to deal with ‘the next’.
Program and panels – Georg Sverdrups Hus, University of Oslo
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