Friday seminar: The microorganism and the disease: Interdisciplinary methods in historical analysis
By Susan D. Jones, University of Minnesota, USA
An important problem in the history of disease is the relationship between the "biological" and "cultural" aspects of disease. While traditional historical methods explore the changing cultural context well, they tend to view the biological aspects of disease as static and not interactive with culture. Scientific methods may not take social context into account adequately, leading to weak historical conclusions. Focusing on infectious diseases, this presentation explains some disciplinary differences and demonstrates ways that historical and scientific methods may collaborate productively. Specific topics include: the histories of influenza, anthrax and plague during the past 150 years.