Locating disease: on the coexistence of diverse concepts of territory and the spread of disease

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When governments have to decide what to do about the threat of infection or contagion, their political concerns and, in particular, their understanding of the relationship between territory and people, are bound to inform their decisions. Drawing on accounts of how different political regimes responded to outbreaks of infectious disease in the Mediterranean region in the past, this chapter focuses on how different regimes understand the spread of the disease: its movement across space.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 during 2020 and the highly diverse political responses to it have demonstrated the importance of this point. Close the borders or not? Quarantine the population or not? The issue here is how people understand, organize and structure spatial relations and separations, as well as how they understand the disease in itself. Given that the spread of a disease involves movement across space, including the crossing of political borders, the way that location is understood and organized is important to how diverse peoples and regimes respond to the spread of disease. The question the chapter deals with is how diseases are located – in the Mediterranean region, in this case.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMedicalising borders : Selection, containment and quarantine since 1800
EditorsSevasti Trubeta, Christian Promitzer, Paul Weindling
Number of pages21
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherManchester University Press
Publication dateApr 2021
Article number7
ISBN (Print)978-1-5261-5466-8
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5261-5465-1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Publication series

NameRethinking Borders
PublisherManchester University Press

Bibliographical note

This chapter is part of a large ERC Advanced Grant called Crosslocations.

Fields of Science

  • 5143 Social and cultural anthropology
  • Quarantine
  • Borders
  • Mediterranean
  • Ottoman Empire
  • Plague
  • Location

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