Photo credit: St. Louis Post Dispatch / Public Domain
Every new disease has been politicized, a historian explains why.
What we can learn from the history of disease.
by Stranger’s Guide
Dr. Christopher Rose is a social historian of medicine focusing on Egypt and the Middle East in the 19th and 20th century. He is currently an adjunct instructor in Global Studies at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, and spoke to Stranger’s Guide about what the history of pandemics can teach us today.
You’re about to lead a course at St Edward’s University on “Plagues and Pandemics” — can you tell us briefly about it?
This is a class I’ve wanted to teach for a while. We’re going to start off with the COVID-19 pandemic; we’re all living through it, and the students understand how they’re feeling, how their families are feeling—the anxiety and uncertainty and frustration that goes with living through a pandemic. Then we’re going to examine past epidemics—HIV/AIDS, influenza, cholera, smallpox, among others—using the present moment as a way to build historical empathy.
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Started fourteen years ago in Paris by entrepreneur Edouard de Broglie, Dans le Noir? is a restaurant in which dinner guests are served in total darkness by staff with little or no sight.
De Broglie says 80% of the information we perceive comes through our eyes, and by deliberately limiting our enjoyment of a meal to taste, smell and texture, it creates a unique sensory experience. As the Guardian’s food critic Jay Rayner wrote, “In the darkness, inhibitions slipped away and we became locked in deep conversation with complete strangers.”
Dans le Noir? now has locations in London, Barcelona, St. Petersburg and Auckland, as well as Paris.