Assembling Epidemics

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesParticipation in or organising a conference


Epidemic events have profoundly shaped human perceptions of the natural world and human ways of relating to and engaging with nature. Across everyday speech and in the health related sciences, vocabularies and registers of nature and naturalness are used to describe the complexity and ground the contingency of epidemic outbreaks. Epidemics are often seen and acted upon as resulting from an anthropogenic imbalance in nature. Equally, epidemics are events that exacerbate the marginalization of oppressed and stigmatized people, naturalizing their vulnerability to pathogens by associating their practices, relations and ways of being with contagion and crisis.

Critical perspectives in historical and social sciences have argued that epidemics should be seen not as a rupture in the natural order, but rather as politically ordained and socially distributed crises. Epidemics, from this perspective, are created out of scarcity, neglect, as well as structural and slow violence.

Bringing together interdisciplinary discussions across medical anthropology, social epidemiology, political ecology and human geography, this conference connects perceptions of the natural world as a threat to human health, and of epidemics as a result of human intervention in the natural, to practices and trajectories (discursive, aesthetic, and political) of naturalization.
Period8 Sept 20179 Sept 2017
Event typeConference
LocationCambridge, United KingdomShow on map