The city in a time of plague
By PEPE ESCOBAR, Asia Times, APRIL 17, 2020
See also How to think post-Planet Lockdown By PEPE ESCOBAR. Asia Times, APRIL 28, 2020
History teaches us that epidemics are more like revelatory moments than social transformers
The plague-stricken town, traversed throughout with hierarchy, surveillance, observation, writing; the town immobilized by the functioning of an extensive power that bears in a distinct way over all individual bodies – this is the utopia of the perfectly governed city.
– Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish
Predictably eyeing the Decline and Fall of the American Empire, a serious academic debate is raging around the working hypothesis of historian Kyle Harper, according to whom viruses and pandemics – especially the Justinian plague in the 6th century – led to the end of the Roman Empire.
Well, history actually teaches us that epidemics are more like revelatory moments than social transformers.
Patrick Boucheron, a crack historian and a professor at the esteemed College de France, offers a very interesting perspective. Incidentally, before the onset of Covid-19, he was about to start a seminar on the Black Death medieval plague.