Coronavirus Multispecies Reading Group

Edna Bonhomme on witnessing pandemic disparities through histories of science and medicine: Monday, May 24, 2021 @ 9am London/ 10am CET/ 6pm Melbourne & Sydney/ 5pm Hong Kong & Singapore


Historian of Science Edna Bonhomme (2021 fellow, Munich Centre for Global History) joins us to discuss her crucial work on the history of plagues, the inequities revealed by SARS-CoV-2’s impact on black and brown communities, and effects of viral outbreak on incarcerated people. Together we examine a sampling of Bonhomme’s latest publications in high impact news sources like The Nation, The GuardianThe Atlantic, Al Jazeera and The Baffler, as well as her recent article in ISIS Journal (History of Science Society) on coronavirus spread in prison populations through a (post)colonial historical lens onto the racialized, necropolitical dynamics of the carceral state. Bonhomme draws upon her expertise in histories of science and contagion, plague in North Africa and inequalities of captivity, delivering seering political insights to the study of outbreak, disease and possibilities for healing. She brings a historian’s critical gaze onto the pandemic now, asking readers to witness, “the contradictions of living through an epidemic under capitalism” in order to critically (re)examine disease trajectories and the ‘pre-existing conditions’ of life amidst outbreak.


Zoom link & passcode will circulate 30 minutes before the session begins!


Complete event series:


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Reading Links:

1) E. Bonhomme,  “Troubling (Post)colonial Histories of Medicine: Toward a Praxis of the Human,” ISIS Journal


2) Bonhomme, Edna. Germany’s Anti-vaccination History Is Riddled With Anti-Semitism, The Atlantic, May 2021,


3) Bonhomme, Edna. “From HIV to Covid, pandemics shows us fear of disease is coloured by prejudice,” The Guardian,


4) Bonhomme, Edna. Covid Threatens to worsen Disparities in Maternal and Reproductive Care, The Nation Magazine, October 2020,


5) Bonhomme, Edna. Racism: The most dangerous ‘pre-existing condition.’ Aljazeera,


6) Bonhomme, Edna. How They Treat Us. The Baffler


The Coronavirus Multispecies Reading Group spontaneously emerged on Facebook in March 2020. Together we are delving into the primary literature–papers from journals like Science and Nature–alongside classic essays from the field of multispecies ethnography. Key questions will include: What is the evidence that SARS- CoV-2 emerged from wild populations of bats and pangolins, via a market in Wuhan, China? Does the virus infect other species? Are other kinds of life vulnerable to infection or demonization? How to best wade through clouds of viral particles, uncertain epistemological and ontological projects, multiplying narratives, and apocalyptic dreams? What kinds of biopolitical, and microbiopolitical, calculations are now needed to reassemble modern life? How should we reconfigure political, economic, interpersonal, and ecological relations in this time of crisis?


Forthcoming Events:

~May 24, 10am CET, Edna Bonhomme

~May 31, 4pm PST/ 9am Melbourne, Forest Rohwer

~June 7, Time TBD, Pei-Ying Lin

~June 14, 1pm PST/6pm June 15 Melbourne, Bharat Venkat

~June 21, Time TBD, Chen Qiufan a.k.a. Stanley Chan

~June 28, 7pm EST/ 9am Melbourne, Konstantin Chumakov

~July 5, Time TBD, Jean Segata

~July 12, 9am Melbourne & Sydney/ 7pm EST, Fan Yang

~July 19, Time TBD, Alex Aisher

~July 26, Time TBD, Holly High

~August 2, TBD

~August 9, Time TBD, Debora Diniz Rodrigues

Dr. Rachel A. Vaughn

Lecturer, UCLA Cluster Program

2018-2019, Oral Historian in Residence, UCLA Center for the Study of Women

Professional webpage:

Edible Feminisms Project:

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