Call for Papers: Digital Symposium “Epidemics and Othering: The Biopolitics of COVID-19 in Historical and Cultural Perspectives”

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has impacted the globe for more than a year. This development sparked renewed interest in the historical, sociocultural, political, and economic aspects of epidemics and pandemics, currently evidenced by an outpouring of scholarship on the consequences of the current pandemic on the world’s population as well as social and economic structures. This symposium provides a forum specifically for the study of the sociocultural developments that lead to “Othering” in situations of a perceived crisis. Aiming at bringing together multi- and interdisciplinary, scholarly approaches to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, we invite papers that examine the processes of “Othering” in relation to a long human history of epidemics and pandemics and the myriad social, political, philosophical, medical, artistic, literary, filmic, and poetic representations and reactions that have produced and/or challenged such Othering dynamics.

This symposium aims at analyzing key factors and cultural narratives that contribute to Othering discourses in the course of Covid-19 and in previous pandemics and epidemics (“real” and “imagined”) from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. The symposium will put a geographical emphasis on North America, the Atlantic World, and transatlantic relations, but welcomes contributions that expand this spatial focus to different world regions in order to create a more globally representative and more nuanced knowledge on the historical and current cultural, sociopolitical, economic, and literary narratives and media representations of epidemics and pandemics.

The symposium is organized by Jun.-Prof. Dr. Rebecca Brückmann (Ruhr-University Bochum, History of North America and its transcultural context) and Jun-Prof. Dr. Heike Steinhoff (Ruhr-University Bochum, American Studies). It will take place digitally on Friday, October 1 and Saturday, October 2, 2021.

Please send 300 to 500 word abstracts (in PDF format) of proposed 15 to 20 minute papers to epidemics-and-othering [at] by April 30th, 2021. You will be notified in mid-June.

You can find the complete CFP here: “Epidemics and Othering”.