Epidemic Crisis: The Dialectics of Event and Process

21 June 2013 - 22 June 2013

CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DT

Online registration is now closed.


Christos Lynteris (CRASSH)



The conference seeks to bring anthropological, historical and public health perspectives on ‘event’ and ‘process’ as two aspects of infectious disease outbreaks in an interdisciplinary dialogue that takes into consideration recent social theoretical and philosophical discussions of ‘event’ but are, at the same time, firmly grounded on the ethnographic and epidemiological reality of epidemics. The aim of the conference is both theoretical, in the sense of expanding anthropological and historical discussion regarding the relation between event and process, and applied, in the sense of bringing epidemiologists and social scientists in dialogue on the role of subjects in such crises, and the importance of social perceptions of epidemic outbreaks in the process of preventing and containing them.


Questions to be raised during the conference include, but are not limited to, the following:



  • What types of subjects are involved or arise from the dialectic between the evental and processual aspect of epidemics?
  • In which ways may different event theories, such as proposed by Alain Badiou, Marshall Sahlins or Caroline Humphrey, inform our understanding of the historical and ethnographic reality of outbreaks?
  • How can Merrill Singer’s syndemic theory help us reappraise the event-process dialectic?



Keynote speakers include:

  • Frédéric Keck (EHESS, Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Sociale)
  • Ezra Barzilay (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, USA)
  • Carlo Caduff (King’s College, University of London)






Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH), University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Trust.



Accommodation for non-paper giving delegates

We are unable to arrange accommodation, however, the following websites may be of help.

Visit Cambridge
Cambridge Rooms
University of Cambridge accommodation webpage

NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of accommodation.


Administrative assistance: conferences@crassh.cam.ac.uk


Location : CRASSH, SG1&2

Date: 21-22 June 2013

Friday 21 June


8.45 - 9.15


9.15 - 9.30

Welcome and Introduction

9.30 -11.00

Panel 1: Responding to Epidemics

  • Lotte Meinert (University of Aarhus) & Susan Reynolds Whyte (University of Copenhagen): Projectification: AIDS Responses in Uganda as Event and Process
  • Will Rea (University of Leeds): No event, No history: Masquerade Responses to the Lukuluku Epidemic in Nigeria
  • Jens Seeberg (University of Aarhus): The event of DOTS and the Transformation of the Tuberculosis Syndemic in India

Respondent: Christos Lynteris (University of Cambridge)

11.00 - 11.30

Coffee break

11.30 - 13.00

Keynote 1

  • Frédéric Keck (EHESS, Laboratoire d'Anthropologie Sociale): From the Purgatory to the Sentinel: "Form/Events" in the Field of Zoonoses

Respondent: Matei Candea (University of Durham)

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.30

Panel 2: Outbreak Temporalities

  • Limor Samimian-Darash (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem): The Time of Event: A Pre-Event Configuration and Preparedness for Pandemic Flu
  • Noemi Tousignant (University of Cambridge): Bureaucratizing Poison: Crisis, Routine and the Bio-politics of Intoxication in Senegal
  • Frédéric Vagneron (EHESS, Centre de Recherches Historiques): Dead and Buried? Revisiting Spanish Flu in France Through the Lens of New Scales and Temporalities

Respondent: Nikolai Ssorin-Chaikov (University of Cambridge)

15.30 - 16.00

Coffee Break

16.00 - 17.30

Keynote 2

  • Ezra Barzilay (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, USA): The Haitian Cholera Outbreak

Respondent: Nigel Pearson (Senior Public Health Consultant, UNHCR) 





Saturday 22 June


10.00 - 11.00

Panel 3: Event and Subject

  • Christos Lynteris (University of Cambridge): Structure and Subject: Epidemics as Events and as Crises  
  • Ruth Prince (University of Cambridge): Subject-Making and Agency in the HIV-City: Reflections on the Epidemic as Historical Event

Respondent: Caroline Humphrey (University of Cambridge)

11.00 - 11.30

Coffee break

11.30 - 13.00

Keynote 3

  • Carlo Caduff (King’s College London): The Nervous Pulse: Threat, Promise, Repetition

Respondent: David Napier (UCL, University of London)

13.00 - 14.00


14.00 - 15.30

Panel 4: Knowledge and Agency

  • Jo Ann Oravec (University of Wisconsin at Whitewater): Social Media and Rumor Dissemination: Interactions with the Social Perceptions of Epidemic Outbreaks
  • Maria Antónia Pires de Almeida & Filomena de Sousa (University of Lisbon): Infectious Information, Affected Populations: The Case Pandemics in  Oporto
  • Johanna Gonçalves Martin (University of Cambridge): Epidemic Over, and All Over Again: Emergency Care in the Upper Orinoco in Venezuela

Respondent: Marta Magalhães (University of Cambridge)

15.30 - 16.00 

Coffe break

16.00 - 17.00