Empires of Panic

Epidemics and Colonial Anxieties

Edited by Robert Peckham

Hong Kong University Press

Empires of Panic

Google Preview

Pub Date: May 2015

ISBN: 9789888208449

256 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $58.00£48.95

Empires of Panic

Epidemics and Colonial Anxieties

Edited by Robert Peckham

Hong Kong University Press

Empires of Panic is the first book to explore how panics have been historically produced, defined, and managed across different colonial, imperial, and post-imperial settings—from early nineteenth-century East Asia to twenty-first-century America. Contributors consider panic in relation to colonial anxieties, rumors, indigenous resistance, and crises, particularly in relation to epidemic disease. How did Western government agencies, policymakers, planners, and other authorities understand, deal with, and neutralize panics? What role did evolving technologies of communication play in the amplification of local panics into global events? Engaging with these questions, the book challenges conventional histories to show how intensifying processes of intelligence gathering did not consolidate empire, but rather served to produce critical uncertainties—the uneven terrain of imperial panic.
Charting the relays of rumor and knowledge that stoke colonial fears of disease, disorder, and disaster, Empires of Panic offers timely and cautionary insight into how viscerally epidemics inflame imperial anxieties, and how words and their communication over new technologies accelerate panic, rally government intervention, and unsettle and entrench the exercise of global power. Relevant a century ago and even more so today. Nayan Shah, University of Southern California; author of Contagious Divides: Epidemics and Race in San Francisco's Chinatown
This collection of essays on panic and empire is not only thought-provoking but also very timely. As the 2016 U.S. presidential race unfolds, dystopian visions of the future are creating panic among portions of the American electorate. By systematically analysing how panics, particularly those precipitated by disease but also other crises including terrorism, have historically been produced, defined, and managed in different imperial and post-imperial settings over the past two centuries, contributors to Empires of Panic offer important insights into the highly charged 'panic politics' of the present. Carol A. Benedict, Georgetown University
It should become clear to anyone reading this volume that the subject-matter at hand is important: we'll likely live or terminate ourselves as a species based on how we handle such pandemics in the future, given the terrifying speed with which the planet has now knitted itself together. In this respect, Empires of Panic is a real service to the field, both in showing that the past is prologue, as the saying goes, and also in warning us that not to take such lessons seriously would be foolhardy indeed. Eric Tagliacozzo, Asia Pacific Perspectives

About the Author

Robert Peckham is associate professor in the Department of History and co-director of the Centre for the Humanities and Medicine at the University of Hong Kong.

Subjects