Across April and May 2020, Erica Charters and Koen Vermeir co-edited a spotlight issue of the journal Centaurus on the history of epidemics and the history of science and medicine in the context of COVID19. The result is a freely available fifteen-article special issue that provides a range of approaches (methodological as well as geographic) to the historical context of COVID19. Scholars were chosen from a variety of backgrounds to capture the diversity of this field, with articles that provide both immediate and long-term insight into the history of disease, measurement, international health, and other subjects of relevance to the current pandemic. As the Introduction, co-authored by Erica Charters and Richard McKay, explains, ‘Knowing the history of something—whether of numbers, narratives, or disease—enables us to see a broader range of trajectories available to us. These varied histories also remind us that we are currently in the midst of a chaotic drama of uncertainty, within our own unstable and unfolding narrative.’ Contributors include the University of Oxford’s Margaret Pelling, who makes use of her career-long expertise in early modern and nineteenth-century disease to provide a long-term perspective on epidemic disease and its histories. As Erica Charters explains, ‘historians and its academic publishing do not usually work with such speed, but it was clear many scholars felt the urgency of articulating and sharing their expertise as a way of making sense and contextualising the COVID19 pandemic. It has been energizing to work with others on this project, and I hope the freely-available special issue will be useful to students and researchers alike.’
You can read and download the full issue at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/16000498/2020/62/2.