Epidemic Urbanism: Reflections on History
Epidemic illnesses—not only a product of biology, but also social and cultural phenomena—are as old as cities themselves. The recent pandemic of COVID-19 has put into perspective the impact of epidemic illness on urban life, and exposed the vulnerabilities of the societies it ravages as much as the bodies it infects. How can epidemics help us understand urban environments? What insights from the outbreak, experience, and response to previous urban epidemics might inform our understanding of COVID-19?
This online symposium will bring together academics from a range of disciplines to present case studies from across the globe to demonstrate how cities in particular are not just the primary place of exposure and quarantine, but also the site and instrument of intervention. The presentations cover a range of illnesses and epidemics, geographies, time periods, urban interventions, observations on the impact of these epidemics on society and urban life, and insights to understand, critique, or complexify the conception of and response to COVID-19. Each presentation shares the story of a city, an outbreak of illness, and the city’s response to the epidemic. In so doing, this symposium will use history as a medium to provide a better understanding of the current crisis by addressing the following:
- What notable interventions or actions were implemented? With what effect?
- What impact did the epidemic have on urbanism, urban design, and urban planning?
- What impact did the epidemic have on architecture in the short and long term?
- What impact did the built environment have on the epidemic, or the experience of illness?
Register online by May 22nd, 2020 at bit.ly/EpidemicUrbanism. Registration is limited to 300 participants. Confirmed registrants will be emailed login information and instructions to access this online symposium.
Day 1: Thursday, May 28 (11am-1pm, US Eastern time)