In this age of COVID-19, one of the few bright spots has been that many academic talks and meetings have moved online, which means that anyone, anywhere can access them. Here’s some of the ones that have caught my eye!

(Yes, I’m writing this as much for me as it is for everyone else … )

Coming up on June 11, Aaron Jakes (Assistant Professor of History and Co-Director of Capitalism Studies, The New School) will be talking about “A World of Disasters: Famine, Plague, and Crisis in Global History”

The profound upheaval wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic has, understandably, invited a wide array of comparisons with past disasters. Of course, societies across the globe have grappled with unexpected, cataclysmic events throughout all of recorded history. But the character, meaning, and experience of such destructive phenomena have varied greatly across world regions and historical eras. In this talk, we will consider together how disasters might be “good to think with,” and how, more specifically, they might allow us to discern and map the movement of large-scale socio-historical transformations.


The always fabulous Nükhet Varlık, Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University – Newark and the University of South Carolina, gave a talk for Harvard University’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Islamic Studies program called “Rethinking the History of Plague in the Time of Coronavirus,” where she discussing plague in European and Ottoman historiography, questioning Eurocentric narratives and epidemiological Orientalism, and reflecting on how we can understand this history in light of the current pandemic. 

I still can’t quite believe I got to follow her in this series, talking about The ‘Spanish’ Influenza in Egypt” on May 6.


Khaled Fahmy (Cambridge) had a conversation with Mezna Qato (Cambridge) about archives and quarantines in 19th century Egypt for the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Science and the Humanities on May 8.


Elaine Van Dalen, Assistant Professor of Classical Islamic Studies at Columbia University, gave a talk on “Medieval Islamic Medical Perspectives on Pandemics from the Ninth to the Fourteenth Centuries” for Vanderbilt University’s Islamic Studies program.


The British Egyyptian Society hosted an online conversation called Eat Like an Egyptian! I enjoy food history a lot and can’t believe I missed this one …


I know there’s other stuff out there, so check back! I’ll keep updating.

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