National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC),
University of Maryland
About the project
The Infectious Historians podcast focuses entirely on the history of infectious diseases. Some episodes discuss a specific historical infectious disease as a way to understand the past – such as the Black Death, cholera, or new research on the Justinianic Plague – while others focus on the direct roots of the contemporary inequalities Covid-19 has brought to the fore in the U.S. and around the world today.
Using the Lepage Center grant, the project plans to expand the podcast to produce thirty new episodes of three specific types. Future episode arcs would include episodes with scholars on, for example, the forced vaccinations of slaves, black infant mortality, and LGBT rights during the HIV pandemic. The project also plans to expand coverage of historiographical debates and introduce additional diseases such as polio and Ebola.
The podcast argues for the importance of the past’s complexity and the contingent and structural forces that shape human responses to infectious disease outbreaks. It aims to showcase that the past does not offer simple lessons that can be taken from history and simply applied in the present.