School of Policy Studies

School of Policy Studies
School of Policy Studies

Queen's Contagion Cultures Lecture Series - Kasim Tirmizey

Tuesday March 9, 2021

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Anti-colonial readings of pandemics in South Asia: A historical perspective

Kasim Tirmizey, FRQSC Post-Doctoral Fellow 2020-2022, Department of Global Development Studies, Queen's University

In early twentieth century, British India was witness to various bouts of pandemics, from the plague to the 1918 flu pandemic. Colonial officials blamed the high mortality rates to the bad hygienic practices of the poor and to natural causes like monsoon failures. Yet, figures like Dadabhai Naoroji and the Ghadar Party understood such events through a very different lens. They articulated a connection between pandemics and colonialism. Establishing such links had political relevance in the struggle against British occupation. What can those anti-colonial perspectives reveal for understanding the contemporary COVID-19 pandemic in South Asia and beyond?