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YorkTalks Session Four 2018

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Spring Lane building auditorium

University of York

Heslington

York

YO10 5DD

United Kingdom

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SESSION FOUR

History matters – Smallpox eradication and its lessons for global health – Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Department of History

Smallpox eradication was inevitable in the 20th century. A vaccine against the disease and a pilot in western Africa provided blueprints for a step-by-step process that led to global public health’s greatest success to date. Not really. Investigative historical work by Professor Sanjoy Bhattacharya paints a different picture. By digging deep into the archives (some of which were assumed to have been shredded) and gaining access to the personal papers of powerful politicians, Professor Bhattacharya presents a powerful narrative of competing priorities, constant negotiations, some accidental successes and significant experimentation in field practice to create the basis for expunging a dreaded disease. This history matters because it helps prepare the international public health community for future pandemics. But, as Professor Bhattacharya will show, this is only possible if this history is uncompromising in its integrity, inclusiveness and complexity.

How archaeology can promote sustainable, economically-viable communities – Sara Perry, Department of Archaeology

Drawing on her experience of delivering prestigious archaeological projects around the world – from Memphis, the ancient heart of Egypt, to the Neolithic site of Çatalhöyük in Turkey – Dr Sara Perry argues that community engagement in heritage can foster togetherness, cross-cultural tolerance, and civic welfare. While the theory of this engagement process is well-developed, Dr Perry says that the practical tools for successful delivery are thin on the ground. Her presentation explores the many political and cultural obstacles that archaeologists can encounter when trying to develop a community-based approach that connects the past to the present and the future. She shows how these obstacles can be overcome and how the benefits of heritage can be shared by the majority rather than remain the preserve of the few.

Laughter and theatre as a response to genocide – Lisa Peschel, Department of Theatre, Film and Television

Drawing on the direct testimony of prisoners in the Jewish ghetto at Terezín (in German, Theresienstadt), Dr Lisa Peschel reveals how comedy and cabaret were key to their survival. Coupling her interviews with the recovery of songs and other dramatic texts created in the ghetto, her research provides deep insights into the ways in which these cabaret narratives helped those trapped in the ghetto to endure their imprisonment. Dr Peschel shows how this vibrant theatrical scene also helped the prisoners reclaim their right to interpret their own experiences. By trivialising even the most shocking events in comic performances, they resisted potentially debilitating fear and were able to carry on with the fight for life.

Death, celebrity and popular culture – Ruth Penfold-Mounce, Department of Sociology

Ever since she discovered that a Wiltshire doctor had kept the arm of a notorious murderer and left it in his attic, criminologist Dr Ruth Penfold-Mounce has been intrigued by the power that the dead – and especially the celebrity and criminal dead – exert over the living. She challenges the assumption that polite British society does not talk about or engage with death. Instead, we are in thrall to it. From the national outpouring of grief at the death of Princess Diana to the growth in representations of zombie and vampires that exploits our fascination with the dead, Dr Penfold-Mounce shows how popular culture shapes our representations of corpses, making death commonplace, banal and far from taboo.

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Date and Time

Location

Spring Lane building auditorium

University of York

Heslington

York

YO10 5DD

United Kingdom

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