Next PANSOC Webinar

Contact if you need a link for the webinar on September 30.

Howard Phillips, University of Cape Town will present “The Silence of the Survivors: Why Did Survivors of the ‘Spanish’ Flu in South Africa Not Talk about the Epidemic?”

To dissect the label ‘forgotten’ which is as inaccurately applied across the board to the great influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 in South Africa as the label ‘Spanish’, this paper will draw a clear distinction between two categories of survivor, viz. institutions and individuals. In the case of institutions like the state, the military, the professions and faith-based communities, their silence stemmed mainly from a deliberate wish not to memorialise what was for them a comprehensive rout as they failed, by and large, to meet the needs of those dependent on them for protection or succour. On the other hand, the long silence of individuals about their experiences in the pandemic was, in the main, not the result of active suppression of memories but more a consequence of a reluctance to actively revive distressing memories of a doleful and frightening period of their lives. That they had not deliberately buried such memories in amnesia is made clear by the readiness with which, sixty years later—by when the pain of such memories had eased—over 170 of them willingly shared their graphic recollections of the pandemic in interviews with the author. Drawing on these almost unique recollections, this paper seeks to construct why, when and how their silence turned into speaking, thereby adding important dimensions to one-dimensional concepts of both silence and survivors.

New webinar video links

Have you missed any of our recent webinars? Have you tried to watch the videos only to get error messages? You’re in luck! The recordings of past webinars have been moved over to Google Drive. You can find the new links here.

March 18: Siddharth Chandra, Michigan State University, USA: “Demographic impacts of the 1918 influenza pandemic.”

Part 1

Part 2 :

March 25: Lone Simonsen, Roskilde University, Denmark: “The First Year of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

April 15: Rick J. Mourits, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam, the Netherlands: “Occupational characteristics and spatial inequalities in mortality during 1918-9 influenza pandemic in the Netherlands.”

April 22: Lisa Sattenspiel, University of Missouri, USA: “Comparing COVID-19 and the 1918 flu in rural vs. urban counties of Missouri.”

April 29: Taylor Paskoff University of Missouri, USA: “Determinants of post-1918 influenza pandemic tuberculosis mortality in Newfoundland.”

May 7: Sushma Dahal & Gerardo Chowell-Puente, Georgia State University, USA: “Comparative analysis of excess mortality patterns during pandemics in Arizona and Mexico.”

May 20: Jessica Dimka, Oslo Metropolitan University: “Disability, Institutionalization, and the 1918 Flu Pandemic: From Historical Records to Simulation Models.”

August 19: Elizabeth Wrigley-Field (University of Minnesota) & Martin Eiermann (University of Berkeley): “Racial Disparities in Mortality During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in United States Cities.”

September 9: Ida Milne, Carlow College: “Forgetting and Remembering the Great Flu: Collecting and Shaping Narratives.”

September 16: Mathias Mølbak Ingholt, Roskilde University, Denmark: “Occupational Characteristics and Spatial Differences During an Intermittent Fever Epidemic in Early 19th Century Denmark.”

September 23: Mary Sheehan, University of Melbourne: “Women and the Spanish Influenza Pandemic in Melbourne, Australia, in 1919.”

September 30: Howard Phillips, University of Cape Town: “The Silence of the Survivors: Why Did Survivors of the ‘Spanish’ Flu in South Africa Not Talk about the Epidemic?”

October 7: Guido Alfani, Bocconi University: “Unravelling the Mysteries of Seventeenth-Century Plagues: The Contribution of Micro-Demographic Approaches.”

October 21: Amir Afkhami, The George Washington University: “From Cholera to COVID19: Continuity and Change in Iran’s Pandemic Experience.”

October 28: Hampton Gaddy, University of Oxford: “Re-estimating the global and national death tolls of the 1918-20 pandemic: Updating Johnson and Mueller (2002).”

November 11: Sharon DeWitte, University of South Carolina: “Social Inequality and Pandemic Mortality: The Biosocial Context of the 14th-Century Black Death.”

November 18: PANSOC’s Master’s Students Carla Louise Hughes (“The Association between the 1918 Influenza Pandemic and Suicide Rates in Norway”) and Lara Maria Dora Steinmetz (“Vaccine hesitancy in Eastern Oslo during COVID-19: Associated sociodemographic factors and subsequent reasons.”)

December 2: Madeleine Mant, University of Toronto Mississauga: “Going Viral: COVID-19 and Risk in Young Adult Health Behaviour Models.”

December 16: John Eicher, Pennsylvania State University – Altoona: “A Digital History Approach to Analyzing Memories of the 1918 Flu Pandemic.”

January 27: Christina Torjussen, University of South-Eastern Norway and PANSOC: “Kong Sverre – The Death Ship.”

February 3: Chinmay Tumbe, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad: “India and 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Mortality Estimates and Correlates.”

February 10: Binoy Kampmark, RMIT University Melbourne, “‘Killing cockroaches with a nuclear weapon’: The Victorian Pandemic Management Bill.”

February 24: David Roth, The Australian National University, “The effects of the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic on mental patients in New South Wales – Work-In-Progress.”

March 10: Tamara Giles-Vernick, Institut Pasteur: “Complex local vulnerabilities and the COVID-19 pandemic in France.”

March 17: Margarida Pereira, PANSOC, “The 2020 Syndemic of Obesity and COVID-19 in an Urbanized World.”

March 31: Lianne Tripp, University of Northern British Columbia: “Overlooking the demographic data: COVID-19 in First Nations in Canada.”

April 7: Amanda Wissler, University of South Carolina & Cleveland Museum of Natural History, “The Long-Term Impacts of Pandemic Disease: Health and Survival after the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.”

April 21: Jord Hanus, University of Antwerp, “Socioeconomic Status and Epidemic Mortality in an Urban Environment: Mechelen (Belgium), 1600-1900”

May 5: Vibeke Narverud Nyborg, University of South-Eastern Norway and PANSOC, The exploration of state health legislations as possible driving forces to non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) during the 1918 pandemic in different Norwegian regions.”

May 12: Carolyn Orbann, University of Missouri, “Co-circulating respiratory diseases at the end of the 1918 influenza pandemic.”

September 15: Kirsty Short, The University of Queensland, “Obesity and viral disease: lessons for pandemic preparedness.”

September 22: Nele Brusselaers, Antwerp University & Karolinska Institutet & Ghent University, “How science affected Covid-19 policy in Sweden.”

September 29: Sushma Dahal, Georgia State University, “Investigating COVID-19 transmission and mortality differences between indigenous and non-indigenous populations in Mexico.”

October 6: Alexi Gugushvili, University of Oslo, “The COVID-19 Pandemic and War: The Case of Ukraine.”

October 20: Masato Shizume, Waseda University, “The Great Influenza Pandemic in Japan: Policy Responses and Socioeconomic Consequences.”

October 27: Ben Schneider, Oslo Metropolitan University, “Work and the 1918–20 Influenza Pandemic in the US.” 

November 3: Heather Battles, The University of Auckland, “A historical syndemic? Measles and scarlet fever in goldfields-era Victoria.”

November 17: Esyllt Jones, University of Manitoba, “Contested Concepts of Borders and Containment in the Great Influenza Pandemic Era in Canada.”

December 1: Tobias A. Jopp and Mark Spoerer, University of Regensburg, “Tracing the temporal and spatial course of the Spanish flu in Germany.”

January 19: Taylor P. van Doren, Sitka Sound Science Center, “Risk perception, resilience, and future population health challenges due to COVID-19 in Southeast Alaska.”

February 2: Marama Muru-Lanning, University of Auckland, Hongi (pressing of noses), Harirū (handshakes) and Hau (sharing breath): In the time of COVID-19.”

February 16: Mikaela Adams, University of Mississippi: “Influenza in Indian Country: Indigenous Sickness and Federal Responsibility during the 1918-1920 Pandemic.”

March 2: Luissa Vahedi, Washington University in St. Louis: “COVID-19 and Violence against Women and Girls: Understanding Synergies, Long-term Consequences, and Lessons Learned for a More Equitable Future.”

March 16: Elisa Perego, University College London: “Long Covid: history, research, future challenges.”

March 23: Helga E. Bories-Sawala, University of Bremen: “The forgotten pandemic that created today’s America: A look at the history textbooks of Québec.”

April 20: Courtney Heffernan, University of Alberta: “Tuberculosis elimination in low prevalence settings: research and implementation.”

Our next webinar goes down under!

Join us on September 23 for the next webinar: Women and the Plague: Spanish Influenza in Melbourne Australia in 1919

Pandemics have always been more than just a medical problem, for they also highlight societal inequalities. Socioeconomic status and ethnic backgrounds have a profound effect on who gets sick, who dies, and who survives – often with long-term health consequences. The impact of the 1918-20 influenza pandemic globally is often told in statistical terms, with an emphasis placed on the high levels of mortality among young males; a tragedy heightened by the deaths of so many combatants during World War One. But what effect did the pandemic have on women, especially those who survived? How did women in the poorer working class suburbs eke out a living and, for the more fortunate, manage to survive? This paper will consider the effects of Spanish influenza in Melbourne. It is the result of burrowing down multiple rabbit holes to catch a glimpse of the effects the event had on women, in particular those in the working class suburbs of Melbourne.

Mary Sheehan is a doctoral candidate at the University Melbourne. Her thesis focuses on the social history of the Spanish influenza pandemic and its effects on Melbourne society in 1919. Mary has a background in nursing, and has worked in major general hospitals in Melbourne, the United States, and as a district nurse. After completing her undergraduate and Master of Arts degrees at Monash University in Melbourne, she was employed by the Victorian government in the public sector, and after that undertook multiple projects while a partner in Living Histories, including heritage studies, oral history projects and commissioned histories. In 2018 Mary returned to university to pursue a long-held interest in the social history of Spanish influenza at Melbourne University.

Next webinar on September 16

Next week, Mathias Mølbak Ingholt, a PhD student at PandemiX Center, Department of Science and Environment, Roskilde University, Denmark will present in our webinar series:

Occupational characteristics and spatial differences during an intermittent fever epidemic in early 19th century Denmark.

In the 1780’s, the high-mortality regime with frequent mortality shocks in the form of epidemics, famines and wars ended in Denmark. The 19th century is characterized as a century of declining infant- and child mortality, improving life expectancy and population growth. One event however contradicts this overall pattern: a mortality crisis in eastern Denmark that began in 1826 and ended in an explosive epidemic in the late summer and fall of 1831. In some villages, over 10% of the population died, and case fatality rates were as high as 60% some places. The epidemic began at the same time across larger geographical areas, and there is no traceable diffusion. In its time, it was labelled an “intermittent fever” epidemic – a diagnosis later associated with malaria. The theory of malaria has however been rebuked, and it has instead been suggested that it was a mass-infection of mold (Manniche, 1997). Despite being a demographic anomaly reminiscent of the high-mortality regime, the epidemic remains understudied by demographers. In this article, I study the spatial differences in mortality during the epidemic and the occupational characteristics of its victims.

Next webinar (9 September):

Forgetting and Remembering the Great Flu: Collecting and Shaping Narratives

The 1918-19 influenza pandemic was for many years underrepresented in historiography, until Alfred Crosby and Richard Collier’s groundbreaking works stimulated reassessments of its impact. But how was it remembered at community or individual level? In this paper, Ida Milne, a social historian of disease, explores the history of her own collecting of 1918-19 flu memory in Ireland, looking at how it has undergone significant sea changes since she first recorded interviews with survivors in 2006. What might these changes indicate for Covid-19 memory?

Ida Milne is European History lecturer at Carlow College, Ireland, a visiting research fellow at Trinity College, Dublin, chair of the health and environment strand of the European Social Science History Conference and co-chair of the international committee of the Oral History Association. Her monograph, Stacking the Coffins, Influenza War and Revolution in Ireland 1918-19 was published by Manchester University Press in 2018, and was awarded a Choice Reviews OATS (Outstanding Academic Titles) in 2019.

Two for one! September 2 Webinars (1700 CET)

PANSOC’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) candidates will be presenting their proposals and preliminary insights. We hope you will join us to learn more about these exciting projects! This week only, we will have a delayed start at 1700 CET. Contact if you need a Zoom link.

Alexandra (Sasha) Blinkova, Herzen State Pedagogical University (St. Petersburg) 

Religion and COVID-19 in social media: a case of Russia and Belarus

COVID-19 is not the first pandemic the world has faced but it is the first pandemic that has changed religious practices and religious authorities’ structures worldwide due to the use of social media platforms in dissemination of religious views and services. Russia and Belarus, two Eastern European, predominantly Russian-speaking, former Soviet countries, are not unique in how religious sources of information influence the part of society that tends to rely on them in times of overwhelming stress and uncertainty like pandemic. Nevertheless, Russia and Belarus are an intriguing case for comparison because while they are both predominantly Orthodox Christian societies and belong to the same religious organization, i.e., the Russian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), the level of societal trust in church authorities in Russia and Belarus varies greatly. In particular, due to dramatic changes in Belarus for political reasons, information coming from official religious sources is expected to be considered less trustworthy and valuable by the recipients. This project will explore whether this hypothesis also applies to unofficial religious voices on social media platforms, such as bloggers (both clergy and lay), journalists, and celebrities. Moreover, it will determine whether religious infodemic, an epidemic of religious information in this case related to coronavirus, has a detrimental effect on shaping attitudes towards vaccination and recognizing COVID as a real health risk for everyone.

Ana Vuin, Charles Darwin University 

Regional Health Professional’s experiences during the COVID-19 crisis: Is there a mismatch in between the theory and practice?

COVID-19 Pandemic affected communities worldwide and had a massive impact on the livelihoods of both urban and rural populations and their physical and mental well being. However, there is a limited understanding of challenges regional practitioners and allied health professionals go through during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The available literature is more focused on the ‘general’s public trust, confidence, mental health and challenges’ rather than exploring such matters on a healthcare (provider) level. Even before COVID-19 Pandemic, Regional communities were struggling with the limited numbers of health facilities, healthcare options, reduced staff, challenging process of recruitment and retention, mental health support (including building rapport in such circumstances), so the additional burden of Pandemic can only contribute to the already existing challenges healthcare professionals experience in these areas. My research aims to explore the initiatives and strategies that were developed to support the health professionals during these times, and compare them with the lived experiences of Norwegian (and potentially Swedish) regional health professionals amid COVID-19 Pandemic. The common knowledge is that the realities of ‘regional or rural’ living are different from urban, therefore the healthcare professionals practicing in such areas will have significantly different experiences too. For that matter, it is necessary to hear their voices and explore their perspectives, challenges, and coping mechanisms as they are the backbone of these communities- providing healthcare services to vulnerable populations. 

Webinar August 19: Racial Disparities in Mortality During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in United States Cities

Our webinar series is returning for the fall semester! Please join us for the first talk on August 19 at 1600 CET. Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, University of Minnesota, and Martin Eiermann, University of Berkeley will present: “Racial Disparities in Mortality During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic in United States Cities” 


The 1918 influenza pandemic stands out for its extreme virulence and unusual age pattern of mortality. A third feature merits the same level of scrutiny and scientific prominence: against a historical backdrop of extreme racial health inequality, the pandemic produced strikingly small ratios of nonwhite to white influenza and pneumonia mortality in the United States. We provide the most complete account of these racial disparities in U.S. cities in 1918 to date, showing that they were almost uniformly small across cities. We also advance and evaluate four potential explanations for this result, including racial differences in: (1) socio-demographic factors like segregation, (2) exposure to city-level implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), (3) exposure to the spring 1918 “herald wave,” and (4) early-life exposures to other influenza strains that could have resulted in differences in immunological vulnerability to the 1918 flu. While we find little evidence for explanations related to residential segregation, NPIs, or partial immunity induced by the herald wave, our results suggest that racial variation in early-life exposure to influenza—in particular the 1890-1892 pandemic—likely shrank racial disparities during the 1918 pandemic. We also find suggestive evidence consistent with a behavioral response to the herald wave. In providing new evidence of the patterns and potential drivers of racial inequality in mortality during the 1918 pandemic, our study underscores the importance of considering interactions between the natural history of a particular microbial agent and the social history of the populations it infects in the study of infectious disease patterns. 

Webinar video available

Last week, MSCA fellow Jessica Dimka presented her project on disability as a risk factor during the 1918 pandemic. Watch the video here:

Jessica noted several sources that helped determine disease values used in her simulation model (and similar models for Newfoundland communities – see work by her PhD supervisor, Lisa Sattenspiel, and their colleagues). These sources include:

“‘An Avalanche of Unexpected Sickness’: Institutions and Disease in 1918 and Today.” Chelsea Chamberlain. June 23, 2020. Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Ferguson, N. M., Fraser, C., Donnelly, C. A., Ghani, A. C., & Anderson, R. M. (2004). Public health risk from the avian H5N1 influenza epidemic. Science, 304(5673), 968–969. https://

Mills, C. E., Robins, J. M., & Lipsitch, M. (2004). Transmissibility of 1918 pandemic influenza. Nature, 432, 904–906.