Throughout history, fear of infectious disease was used to incite fear and hatred of ethnic, cultural, and religious ‘other’. In Episode 3, Gašper Jakovac is hosting Prof. Ann Thomson (EUI) to discuss writings of Constantin-François Chasseboeuf, comte de Volney (1757–1820), who in the 1780s wrote two extremely hostile accounts of the Ottoman Empire. Find out more about how the plague highlights Volney’s anti-Muslim prejudice.
While researching historical plague during a pandemic has been a strangely soothing experience for me, I’ve been told it has made me rather difficult to talk to. “You keep saying the situation isn’t as bad as the literal Black Death, like that’s a comfort,” a friend said, making it clear that it was not at all a comfort, that she had learned more about the symptoms of bubonic plague than she cared to, and could we perhaps talk about something else?
The 1636 outbreak of plague was far from the worst in the history of England. But for Newcastle, the north-eastern port city, it was devastating. In less than a year, it wiped out almost half of the entire population of the city.