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Epidemics play an increasingly urgent role at the intersections of human rights and global public health efforts. The example of HIV/AIDS has shown that epidemics impact not only health providers and patients, but alter social and political landscapes, and influence artistic expressions. This conference examines how prevention and treatment are connected to issues of race, gender, and sexuality. It also investigates what we may learn from epidemics of the past, such as the plague or leprosy, and how we might prepare ourselves for newly emerging epidemics as a result of antibiotic-resistant superbugs. Finally, the definitions of what constitutes an “epidemic” are explored in the context of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, or contagions of suicide as a response to social conditions, such as slavery or stereotyping.

Friday, February 24th & Saturday, February 25th

details below

Friday, February 24th

California State University Fullerton

All Sessions in Steven G. Mihaylo Hall 1308

8-9 Registration/Coffee


Plenary: Navid Madani Harvard Medical School

35 Years of HIV/AIDS: What the Pandemic has Taught Us About  Biology and Humanity


Epidemics at the Intersection of Race, Gender & Sexuality

  • Andrea Milne, The Radical Politics of the World's First AIDS Ward
  • Jorge Fontdevila, Sexual Meanings and HIV among Latino Gay and Bisexual Men
  • Michelle Teti, Critical Perspectives of HIV Prevention and Treatment

12-1 Lunch


Evolving Epidemics: Susceptibility, Resistance and the Role of Social Systems as Agents of Disease

  • María Soledad Ramírez, Superbug: Evidence of Super-fast Evolution, What Can We Do?
  • Parvin Shahrestani, Evolution of Infection-Resistance in Large Populations
  • Joshua Yang, Health in Modernity: Capitalism, Neoliberalism and Epidemics

2:45-3:00 Coffee


Keynote: Jonathan David Katz  New York State University at Buffalo

How AIDS Changed American Art

6 Dinner at a Local Restaurant

Saturday, February 25th

California State University, Fullerton

All Sessions in Steven G. Mihaylo Hall 1406

8-8:30 Registration/Coffee


Contagion Around the Pacific

  • Ian Read, Tragedy at the Tropic of Capricorn: Nineteenth Century Globalization and Epidemiological Change on Two Sides of South America
  • Michael Weiner, An Imagined Epidemic: Leprosy and Leprosy Control in 20th Century Japan
  • Ted Lowe, Suicide Epidemics, Neoliberal Development, and the Image of the Recalcitrant Native in Oceania

10-10:15 Coffee/Bagels


Death and Epidemics of “Choice”

  • Terri Snyder, Was there an Epidemic of Slave Suicide? A Perspective From Eighteenth-Century British America
  • Eliza Noh, Terror as Usual: The Role of the Model Minority Myth in Asian American Women’s Suicidality
  • Jochen Burgtorf, Joining Hands Around the Grave: The 'Dance of Death'

11:45-12 Coffee


Plenary: Monica Green Arizona State University

Re-learning Epidemics Past: What Plague Can Teach Us Now

1-2 Lunch



For more information contact : Margaret Garber at or Andrea Patterson at

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