Measles: Constructing a Global History

Photo of Dr. Conis and the talk information.

Event Date

Center for Health Technology Room 1341

Measles is one of the oldest, most familiar, extensively studied, preventable, and still-epidemic infectious diseases of humans. This talk will trace measles' history from medieval times to the present, to show how scientific and sociopolitical conceptions and perceptions of the disease rooted in space and time have made measles both a stable and dynamic illness. The talk will discuss measles' place in the global history of conquest and empire; its role in the advent of vaccination and other mainstays of modern public health; and its symbolism in contemporary efforts to manage infectious diseases from smallpox to COVID.

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Elena Conis is a writer and historian of medicine, public health, and the environment. She is the author of How to Sell a Poison: The Rise, Fall, and Toxic Return of DDT; Vaccine Nation: America's Changing Relationship with Immunization; and, with Aimee Medeiros and Sandra Eder, Pink and Blue: Gender, Culture and the Health of Children.