WORKSHOP 'Endemicity: The Contours of Epidemics'


Register via Eventbrite.


Current efforts to ‘live with covid’ highlight the concept of endemicity: the transition from epidemic to endemic. But what does it mean for a disease to be endemic, and how is this defined, measured, and established? Although the category of ‘endemic’ is widely understood and powerfully applied, its meaning is shaped by context rather than by strict numbers. ‘Endemic’ can mean widespread, periodic, expected, unnoticed, normal – that is, the opposite of ‘epidemic’. How does the long-term, context of endemicity frame the immediate urgency of epidemics? How does the category of endemicity vary by region and culture? And how do other diseases, political priorities, economic pressures, and social tensions shape the parameters of endemicity (what an endemic disease is), and thus also shape the end contours of an epidemic?


This multidisciplinary workshop draws on a range of disciplinary and methodological insights to analyse the notion of endemic disease as well as the process of an epidemic’s end. As this stage of the Covid-19 pandemic highlights the social, political, and economic nature of epidemics, long-term and multidisciplinary views of disease and health are crucial. This workshop therefore encourages examples, case studies, and reasoning drawn from the humanities and social sciences, but welcomes all disciplinary analyses of the concept of endemic disease as well as the contours (ends and beginnings) of epidemics.


Thursday 29 June 2023

Maison Française d’Oxford, 2-10 Norham Rd OX2 6SE


14h00 – 15h30 Concepts and Themes I

Welcome: Claire Crignon, Erica Charters, Éric Pardoux

What the Covid-19 epidemic does to health: Guillaume Le Blanc (Université Paris Cité, Institut Universitaire de France)

Herd Immunity, Concept and History: Sunetra Gupta (Oxford), David J. Robertson (Oxford)

15h30 – 16h00 Tea and Coffee

16h00 – 18h00 Cases I

The Contested Epidemiology of East-African Tuberculosis, 1925-1935: Christoph Gradmann (Oslo)

The introduction, spread, and continuation of cholera transmission in Haiti: a case study in endemicity: Lorenz Von Seidlen (Oxford)

OBEPINE: a French project to early detection and efficient monitoring of epidemics through wastewater analysis: Vincent Marechal (Sorbonne)

Speakers’ Dinner

Friday 30 June 2023

Maison Française d’Oxford, 2-10 Norham Rd OX2 6SE


10h30 – 12h30 Cases II

What Happened to the Great North American Horse Flu of 1872-1873?: Thomas G. Andrews (Colorado Boulder)

The Fight against Malaria in the French Empire: Benoit Pouget (Sciences Po Aix)

Catching Colds with Canguilhem: Culturing Relations with Common Cold Viruses: Beth Greenhough (Oxford)

12h30 – 13h30 Lunch

13h30 – 14h50 Transitions

From Fatal to Chronic and from Epidemic to Endemic: The case of ‘Ending AIDS’: Tony Sandset (Oslo)

Avian Influenza, between Endemicity and Biosecurity: Frederick Keck (CNRS)

14h50 – 15h20 Tea and Coffee

15h20 – 17h00 Concepts and Themes II

Paradise Lost – Rethinking AMR from the Perspective of Permanent Endemicity: Claas Kirchhelle (UCD)

From Spanish Flu to Gain-of Function Research: Risks of a New Pandemic: Renaud Piarroux (Sorbonne)



Organizers: Erica ChartersClaire CrignonÉric Pardoux

Medical Humanities Oxford (TORCH)Maison Française d’OxfordHumanités Biomédicales Sorbonne Université
Institut d’Histoire des Représentations et des Idées dans les Modernités

Sorbonne Initiative humanités biomédicales

Medical Humanities Programme


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