It has become a truism to state that in times of epidemic infection, the bodies of the dead become morally, ontologically, and infrastructurally problematic. Nowhere has this been better demonstrated than in the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, when burials and the handling of corpses became arenas of contestation through which both local and scientific ‘cultures’ were placed on trial.
This conference will expand the discursive space that such narratives have created, by asking; how can we problematise the perception and treatment of corpses in situations of infectious disease outbreaks? How can we denaturalise burial as an obvious space of political and ethical contestation? What kinds of pollution narrative are specific to epidemic situations, and how have these historically interacted with arguments over contagion and infection? Moreover, how does the handling of the polluted corpse come to impact upon descriptions of the healthy body? Indeed, what is the place of the healthy body in a political economy geared toward answering the question of how to dispose of the corpse?
Papers are invited from across the medical humanities (anthropology, medical history, sociology, geography, etc.) as well as from public health perspectives. Abstracts of no more than 200 words are to be sent to Nicholas Evans (ne228 [at]cam.ac.uk) by the 1st July.