Our next Behind the Headlines, in partnership with the Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities at Columbia University, will explore what pandemics and public health crises mean for democracies around the world.
Social distancing, cocooning, and ‘lockdown’ measures implemented worldwide to stall the spread of Covid-19 have raised questions about what the absence of public life means for democracy. We have also seen a range of emergency powers introduced by governments trying to manage social order during this time. Our international panel will discuss the politics and policies of disease prevention and control, how the absence of public life might impact on those on the margins of our societies, and what we might learn from plague and democracy in classical Greece.
Peter Baldwin is a professor of history at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) where he is interested the historical development of the modern state. He will explore the politics of disease prevention.
Lilith Acadia is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Cofund Fellow at the Trinity Long Room Hub, researching pretext in the construction and concealment of ethical and policy stances, actions, and identity. Her talk will explore how we can use tools to evaluate the trustworthiness of governments’ justifications for policy changes in times of crisis.
Shamus Khan is a professor of Sociology at Columbia University, where he is chair of the department. He writes on culture, inequality, gender, and elites. Exploring what lessons we can take from sociology, he will discuss what social isolation means for many vulnerable groups.
Ahuvia Kahane is Regius Professor of Greek (1761) and A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at Trinity’s Department of Classics. He will explore what citizens today might learn from the catastrophic plague which struck Athens in 430BCE, killing its leader Pericles and marking the beginning of the end of democracy in classical Greece.