Melissa Frick


cholera, Haiti, United Nations, disease, global health, aid organizations


Note: In lieu of an abstract, this is the article's first paragraph.

"In his introduction to Epidemics and Ideas, Paul Slack calls to revive the study of social history of epidemics, wanting to show how societies cope with, react to, and interpret crises of disease. He reviews historian Richard Evans’ notion of the “common dramaturgy” to all epidemics, which states that human society responds to mass infection through an inherent response mechanism. Disease presents common dilemmas - including decisions on how the disease is transmitted, whom it infects, who is to blame, and incites common responses. Furthermore, Slack suggests that the society’s understanding of infection, interpreted through different social, cultural, and political contexts, shapes the specificity of these responses. Such variables of understanding include the novelty of the disease, violence of infection, geographical and social incidence, and the ‘disease-environment’ preceding the epidemic."