Colloquium: The Control of Contagion – Ideas, Institutions and Disease in China and India

  • Date: Apr 30, 2019
  • Time: 05:00 PM (Local Time Germany)
  • Speaker: Prerna Singh
  • Location: Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, 14195 Berlin
  • Room: Kleiner Sitzungssaal
  • Host: Center for the History of Emotions
  • Contact:

The Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, led by Prof. Ute Frevert, cordially invites all interested to attend its summer semester 2019 colloquium:

Prerna Singh, Brown University, Rhode Island

The Control of Contagion: Ideas, Institutions and Disease in China and India

From the plague to Ebola, infectious diseases have long struck fear in the hearts of humans. As much as their deadly consequences, what makes contagious disease so terrifying is their mode of transmission - passing via virtually invisible pathogens across even tightly policed borders. Yet while disease does not respect political boundaries, borders determine our vulnerability to an infectious disease. Why have places with similar epidemiological and socioeconomic conditions experienced differential success in the control of contagion? This talk draws on comparative historical analyses of China and India to show how the degree of cultural embeddedness of a disease-controlling intervention, such as a vaccine, is a critical determinant of popular uptake, and consequently the control of infectious diseases.

Prerna Singh is Mahatma Gandhi Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies at Brown University. Prior to joining Brown she was at the Department of Government at Harvard University. Singh’s research on social welfare, ethnic politics and nationalism has won numerous prizes across Political Science and Sociology. Her book, How Solidarity Works for Welfare, was awarded both the American Political Science Association’s Woodrow Wilson Prize and the American Sociological Association’s Barrington Moore Prize for the best book of 2015. In 2019 Singh received the “brainy award” from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation and the Berlin Prize from the American Academy of Berlin.

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