• The Pandemic Arc: Rethinking Narratives in the History of Medicine

    Monica H. Green (see profile)
    History, World health, Evolution (Biology), Pandemics, COVID-19 Pandemic (2020-), Communicable diseases, Historiography
    Item Type:
    Plague, Black Death, Smallpox, SARS-CoV-2, HIV, Yersinia pestis, Paleogenetics, Molecular Biology, Zoonotics, Global Health
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    This the revised draft of my essay, "The Pandemic Arc: Expanded Narratives in the History of Global Health," which was written for a planned special issue of the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Science. The essay has been formally accepted, but has yet to undergo editing until the remaining submissions come in. Since this will no doubt undergo additional changes prior to final printing, please cite this as "Draft 06/29/2023," with the DOI assigned by Humanities Commons. Abstract: Using the examples of plague, smallpox, and HIV/AIDS, the present essay argues for the benefits of incorporating the evolutionary histories of pathogens, beyond visible epidemic spikes within human populations, into our understanding of what pandemics actually are as epidemiological phenomena. The pandemic arc—which takes the pathogen as the defining “actor” in a pandemic, from emergence to local proliferation to globalization—offers a framework capable of bringing together disparate aspects not only of the manifestations of disease but also of human involvement in the pandemic process. Pathogens may differ, but there are common patterns in disease emergence and proliferation that distinguish those diseases that become pandemic, dispersed through human communities regionally or globally. The same methods of genomic analysis that allow tracking the evolutionary development of a modern pathogen like SARS-CoV-2 also allow us to trace pandemics into the past. Reconstruction of these pandemic arcs brings new elements of these stories into view, recovering the experiences of regions and populations hitherto overlooked by Eurocentric narratives. This expanded global history of infectious diseases, in turn, lays a groundwork for reconceiving what ambitions a truly global health might aim for. Keywords: paleogenomics; plague; smallpox; HIV/AIDS; zoonotics (One Health); disease emergence; Global Health; global history; climate change
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    3 months ago
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