Against Time: Epidemics and medical temporalities from bubonic plague to COVID-19

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  Wednesday, February 16, 2022
  12 - 1:30 p.m.
  Online via Zoom
  Ahmed Ragab;, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Under epidemic conditions, time is different. Urgency and latency acquire new meanings, and the immediacy of human contact becomes warped or interrupted. Epidemic temporalities also impact medicine. What counts as urgent, necessary, acute or chronic? how long is too long? and how can we deploy time in units punctuated by incubation periods, spread and mortality?
In this talk, Professor Ahmed Ragab (Johns Hopkins School of Medicine) investigates the temporalities of medical thought and practice under epidemic conditions: how physicians and medical practitioners understood, and continue to understand, epidemic diseases—how these diseases are conceived differently and how this conceptual structure affects health outcome. He discusses plague not simply as a moment in the past but as a constitutive moment in the history of Galenic/Humoral medicine and its descendent; modern Western medicine, to understand how it affected medical thought and practice. He then looks at COVID-19 focusing in particular on epidemic management in the Middle East as an example of postcolonial spaces. Ragab analyzes these instances of medical thought as connected problem-spaces that offer a chance for thinking about epidemics as well as about the legacy and structure of history of medicine as a discipline in relation to the Middle East and Islam.

Ahmed Ragab is a historian, physician and a documentary filmmaker. He is associate professor of the history of medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and the founding director of the independent Center for Black, Brown, and Queer Studies.. He received his medical degree from Cairo University School of Medicine in 2005, and PhD from the Ecole Pratiques des Hautes Etudes in Paris in 2010. He is the author of The Medieval Islamic Hospital: Medicine, Religion and Charity (Cambridge University Press, 2015), Piety and Patienthood in Medieval Islam (Routledge Press, 2018), and Medicine and Religion in the Life of an Ottoman Sheikh (Routledge Press, 2019).

Center for Middle Eastern Studies
University of California, Berkeley
340 Stephens Hall, Berkeley, CA  94720-2314



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