Online Symposium: Epidemic Urbanism Reflections on History

Online Symposium: Epidemic Urbanism Reflections on History: 28 May and 29 May 2020

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Epidemic illnesses – not only a product of biology, but also social and cultural phenomena – are as old as cities themselves. The recent pandemic of COVID-19 has put into perspective the impact of epidemic illness on urban life and exposed the vulnerabilities of the societies it ravages. So how can epidemics help us understand urban environments? And what insights from the outbreak and experience of and the response to previous urban epidemics might inform our understanding of COVID-19?

Addressing these questions, this online symposium on Thursday 28 and Friday 29 May, 16:00–18:00 BST (11:00–13:00 US EST) will bring together academics from a range of disciplines to present case studies from across the globe demonstrating how cities in particular are not just the primary place of exposure and quarantine, but also the site and instrument of intervention.

Each presentation will tell a story of a city, an outbreak of illness, and the city’s response to the epidemic, addressing notable interventions or actions implemented and their effects. Some will discuss the impact of the epidemic on urbanism, urban design and urban planning. Others consider epidemic influence on architecture, the built environment and the experience of illness.

Presentations will cover a range of illnesses and epidemics, geographies, time periods and urban interventions. The observations on the impact of these epidemics on society and urban life seek to offer insights to understand, critique or complicate the conception of and response to COVID-19 because the symposium ultimately aims to create a space in which to use history as a medium to provide a better understanding of the current crisis and how it might shape our future.

Information and Registration:



Register by 20 May 2020.

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