Join the Department of Sociology for an insightful online webinar with Professor Felicity Callard on Epidemic Time: Thinking from the Sick-Bed
Felicity Callard is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Glasgow and Editor-in-Chief of the History of the Human Sciences. She has researched various topics relating to mental health, as well as the history of psychiatry and psychology, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. She also has an interest in interdisciplinarity as method and an epistemic object, and is the co-author, with Des Fitzgerald, of Rethinking Interdisciplinarity across the Social Sciences and Neurosciences (Palgrave, 2015).
In addition to writing on Long Covid, she is currently researching histories of fantasy and daydream in the human sciences, as well as working collaboratively on a project to map and diagnose how mental health is conceptualised and addressed as problem and site of intervention in the UK University sector today. To experience an epidemic while lying on a sick bed opens up other ways of thinking through time, epidemics, and sequence from those developed in many accounts of epidemics (e.g. see the medical historian Charles Rosenberg’s famous 1989 essay ‘What Is an Epidemic? AIDS in historical perspective’).
In this talk, Professor Callard will reflect, as a patient recovering from COVID-19, on how historical and sociological research on epidemics often follows the logic proposed by the discipline of epidemiology itself: a focus on acute cases, and on a tracking of the ‘peak(s)’, often means that longer temporalities of suffering are hidden. In contrast, she wants to follow ‘Long Covid’. This is an illness that was, in 2020, collectively made and named by patients, and one which changed how the natural history of a new disease (COVID-19) was being mapped out by conventional scientific experts.
Long Covid conceptualizes time differently from common categories and pre-fixes used in medicine and epidemiology, such as the ‘chronic’ or the ‘post’. The collective labour of ill people thinking from the sick bed both those with Long Covid and those working to bring to visibility other illnesses and the sequelae of other epidemics has allowed other possible arrangements of sick bodies, symptoms, and diagnostic classifications to come into view. These arrangements hold potential for sociologists as well as clinical scientists.