Epidemic Urbanism (Book)

How Contagious Diseases have Shaped Global Cities

The recent pandemic has put into perspective the impact of epidemic illness on urban life and exposed the vulnerabilities of societies. Interdisciplinary case studies from across the globe explore what insights from the outbreak, experience, and response to previous epidemics might inform our understanding of the current world. 150 b/w illus.


This volume includes essays that deploy interdisciplinary approaches to the analysis of the mutual relationship between pandemics and the built environment. The chapters cover case studies from all five continents. Each chapter will focus on the story of a pandemic in a particular city or region. The chapters will be brief (1700–2000 words) and will be developed based on a strict structure provided by the book editors. Each chapter will include historical context (500 words), case study (700 words), and conclusion (300 words). Each chapter will include 3–4 historical images that depict historical epidemics and pandemics. The book will be opened and concluded by two well-known scholars from public health and medical anthropology. These two chapters will address pandemics and epidemics in the last fifty years as well as the COVID-19 crisis and how history helps us have a better understanding of the post-COVID era.

Mohammad Gharipour is Professor and Director of Architecture Graduate Program at the School of Architecture and Planning at Morgan State University in Baltimore, USA. 

Caitlin DeClercq is an Assistant Director at Columbia University’s Center for Teaching and Learning. Along with Mohammad Gharipour, she is the co-founder of the Epidemic Urbanism Initiative.

'This is a brilliantly conceived, ground breaking collection that provides deep insight into the challenges that COVID poses to our world today.  By focusing on the physical environment, these studies of past pandemics demonstrate how critical it is to tend to both neglected infrastructure and vulnerable communities.  Epidemic Urbanism is an inspiring example of  interdisciplinary collaboration across diverse times and places and the contributions it brings to the work of global public health.'

Nancy Tomes, Distinguished Professor, Stony Brook University, USA

Nancy Tomes

“Epidemic Urbanism recounts the fascinating history of cities and plagues to shed light on present and future challenges. For hundreds of years, cities have played a central role in the spread, inequality, and containment of epidemics and pandemics. Why would COVID-19 be any different? Public health strategy is most effective when based on data, aligned with communities, and informed by the triumphs and failures of the past. This book is essential reading for the work of preparing for our next great infectious disease challenge.”
Joshua M. Sharfstein, Professor and Vice Dean, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA

Joshua Sharfstein

“As sports stadia and conference centres have transformed themselves into impromptu healthcare facilities and makeshift morgues, Epidemic Urbanism could not be timelier. Ranging from Agra in the 1610s to Sao Paulo in the 1970s, its studies of particular, historical outbreaks add up to a global account of how disease has affected cities and cities have affected disease. Drawing from specialists across a range of disciplines, Gharipour and DeClercq’s urgent collection draws from the past to point the way to the future. As Governments exhort and promise to ‘Build Back Better’, Epidemic Urbanism tellingly reminds us how such policies need to be informed by historical understanding and based around shared equity.”
Ross MacFarlane, Research Development Specialist, The Wellcome Collection, UK

Ross MacFarlane

“The dynamic interplay of contagious illness and the built environment is a long and global story,
highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Epidemic Urbanism is an epic collection amplifying this theme, beautifully conceived and organized in a clear, orderly format (context-case study-conclusion). Its main intention is to inspire action, anticipating future historical studies and pandemics. Instructive examples take us around the world to see how illnesses have been managed and mis-managed by city dwellers.”
Annmarie Adams, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, McGill University, Canada

Annmarie Adams
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