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EpidemicsHate and Compassion from the Plague of Athens to AIDS$
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Samuel K. Cohn, Jr.

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198819660

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198819660.001.0001

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Hate, Politics, and Compassion

(p.1) Introduction

Samuel K. Cohn, Jr.

Oxford University Press

Since the 1980s the dominant hypothesis has been: big epidemics throughout history have sparked hatred and blame of the ‘other’, especially when diseases were mysterious with no prevention or cure to hand. This book dumps on its head this implied chronology. Instead of hate, epidemics before the nineteenth century and the ‘laboratory revolution’ that ensued overwhelmingly inspired altruism and unity. Things changed with modernity. But even from the nineteenth century to the present, different epidemic diseases had radically different socio-psychological effects. Just as different diseases affect our bodies differently, so too have they tended to affect our collective mentalities differently.

Keywords:   epidemics, laboratory revolution, Susan Sontag, Roy Porter, Carlo Ginzburg, Paul Farmer

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