Violence, Care, Risk in the Age of COVID-19

The appropriation by anti-vaxxers of pro-choice rhetoric and its transformation into claims about ‘bodily violence’ (‘My body, my choice’) heralded a shift in the debates about COVID-19 and vaccination. Central to this is the link between choice and risk. The talk will examine the history of such concepts in times of plague and the role that ‘freedom’ or ‘liberty’ plays in these debates and their precursors. The lecture will compare these debates about care and cure (or at least prevention) with the late 20th-century debates about vaccination, HPV, and risk.

Sander L. Gilman is a distinguished professor emeritus of the Liberal Arts and Sciences as well as emeritus Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University. A cultural and literary historian, he is the author or editor of over one hundred books. His ‘I Know Who Caused COVID-19’: Pandemics and Xenophobia (with Zhou Xun) appeared in 2021 and his most recent edited volume is The Oxford Handbook of Music and the Body (with Youn Kim) published in 2019. He is the author of the basic study of the visual stereotyping of the mentally ill, Seeing the Insane, published in 1982 (reprinted: 1996 and 2014) as well as the standard study of Jewish Self-Hatred, the title of his monograph of 1986, which is still in print. He has held positions at Cornell University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Illinois at Chicago and has been a visiting professor at numerous universities in North America, South Africa, The United Kingdom, Germany, Israel, China, and New Zealand.

In English
Organized by

Clio Nicastro and Marta-Laura Cenedese

The symposium is co-funded by the ICI Berlin, the VolkswagenStiftung, the Centre Marc Bloch, and the Nordic Summer University.

Image credit © Claudia Peppel, ‘Who’s afraid of…?’, 2013 (collage, detail)