1st Edition

Making Sense of Diseases and Disasters Reflections of Political Theory from Antiquity to the Age of COVID

Edited By Lee Trepanier Copyright 2022

    This book examines diseases and disasters from the perspective of social and political theory, exploring the ways in which political leaders, social activists, historians, philosophers, and writers have tried to make sense of the catastrophes that have plagued humankind from Thucydides to the present COVID pandemic. By adopting the perspective of political theory, it sheds light on what these individuals and events can teach us about politics, society, and human nature, as well as the insights and limitations of political theory. Including thinkers such as Thucydides, Sophocles, Augustine, Bacon, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, Publius, Bartolomé de las Casas, Jane Addams, Camus, Saramago, Baudrillard, Weber, Schmitt, Voegelin and Agamben, it considers a diverse range of events including the plagues of Byzantium and 14th century Europe, 9/11, the hurricanes of Fukushima, Boxing Day, and New Orleans, and the current COVID pandemic. An examination of past, present, and future diseases and disasters, and the ways in which individuals and societies react to them, this volume will appeal to scholars of politics, sociology, anthropology and philosophy with interests in disaster and the social body.


    Lee Trepanier

    Part 1: In the Time of COVID

    1. The Permanentization of Emergencies: The Case of Epidemics

    Arpad Szakolczai

    2. The COVID Apocalypse: Doing Your Job in World War IV

    Paul Corey

    3. Situating Solidarity in the Time of COVID: Disaster, Dignity, and Difficult Decisions in Catholic Social Thought

    Jeremiah H. Russell and Michael E. Promisel

    4. Hull House and Disease: Interconnectedness, Creativity, and Community

    Lorraine Krall McCrary

    5. Factions and Not Facts: David Hume, James Madison, and America’s Response to COVID

    Jordon Barkalow

    Part 2: Modern Solutions and Problems

    6. Locke, Plague, and the Two Treatises of Government

    Kevin Kearns

    7. Natural Science, Disaster, and the Wise Management of Passions in Francis Bacon

    Evan Lowe

    8. Perfectibility, Disease, and Morality: Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s teaching on Modern Science

    Benjamin Isaak Gross

    9. Acts of God and Acts of Men: Bartolomé de las Casas’s Interpretation of Sixteenth-Century Epidemics

    Brian Hamm

    10. Plagues and Citizenship: How Disease Changed the Meaning of Political Membership in Ancient Athens, Byzantium, and 14th Century Europe

    Jason Wallace

    Part III: Love, God, and Plagues in Antiquity

    11. St. Augustine and the Politics of Sovereign Charity: Caritas Contra Cupiditas in The City of God

    Paul Krause

    12. On the Uses and Abuses of Flood for Life: St. Augustine’s Theo-politics of Disaster

    Alicia Rolsma Richard Avramenko

    13. Sophocles’ Philoctetes: Disease and the Interconnected Needs

    Marlene K. Sokolon

    14. The Plague in Thucydides’s Account of Civilization

    Khalil Habib

    15. Athens and Oran: The Loves and Lessons of Two Plagues

    Thornton C. Lockwood

    Part 4: Past and Present Reflections

    16. The Great East Japan Earthquake Disaster of 2011: An Analysis of Fukushima’s Dialogical Negotiation of Identity

    Matthew Nall

    17. Redefining Trauma through ‘Going Ashore’ and The Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004

    Aimee Pozorski

    18. Hurricane Katrina: Finding Freedom in James Lee Burke’s Tin Roof Blowdown

    Catherine Craig

    19. 9/11 and the Solitary Soul: The State of the Person in Don DeLillo’s Falling Man

    Michael Buhler

    20. The Doctor’s Wife: The Limits of Compassionate Rule in the State of Nature in Saramago’s Blindness

    Erin Dolgoy and Kimberly Hurd Hale


    Lee Trepanier is Professor of Political Science at Samford University, USA. He is the author of Political Symbols in Russian History: Church, State, and the Quest for Order and Justice and Political Science: Concepts, Methods, and Topics, the editor of Eric Voegelin’s Asian Political Thought, and the co-editor of Walk Away: When the Political Left Turns Right and Eric Voegelin Today: Voegelin’s Political Thought in the 21st Century.