Pandemics and the Power of History

June 22-24, 2021
5:00 - 6:45 pm (GMT +2)

There is perhaps no longer lasting historical relationship than that between humans and disease, especially that of epidemic disease. The relationship predates agriculture, the formation of cities, and, if current research on the emergence of diseases like tuberculosis is correct, human migration out of Africa. From the earliest times to the present, epidemics have affected human history in myriad ways: demographically, culturally, politically, financially, and biologically. Humans have never known a time in history when epidemics did not loom large. Of course, because of COVID-19, this is as true today as it ever was. This course will consider a great deal of time and space, but focus on the period from the Black Death and the decimation of the New World—what great French history, Emanuel La Roy Ladurie called the “unification of the globe by disease”—to the present. We will cover a range of topics including race and disease; migration; the growth of the state; and much more

Christian McMillen researches the history of Epidemic disease, as well as American Indian history. He is the author of three books, including “Discovering Tuberculosis: A Global History, 1900 to the Present” (Yale University Press), “Pandemics: A Very Short Introduction” (Oxford University Press) and “Making Indian Law: The Hualapai Land Case and the Birth of Ethnohistory” (Yale University Press). McMillen’s interest in the history of medicine stemmed from his study of Native American history. He is also a member of UVA’s Global Infectious Diseases Institute.