Forms of Urban and Medical Exclusion Thursday, May 14th Z-Panel | 3:00PM EDT

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Alexandre White
Leslie Topp


This event will take place as a public Zoom panel starting at 3:00 pm EDT. Please REGISTER HERE in advance. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Event Video:


Leslie Topp, From Seclusion to Self-Isolation: Uses and Perils of the Single Room


This paper will address the history of the design of seclusion and isolation in psychiatric and prison contexts, with a focus on the single room and its deployment and representation also in a range  of non-carceral contexts such as domestic, working, and academic environments  The current crisis has taught us much about isolation, its uses and perils. It has also shone a bright light on spatial inequality in the range of assumptions at play in public health advice about what kind of spaces and isolation possibilities most people have or should have access to, and how far short of that assumed norm many people’s accommodation falls. This paper will showcase historical research on past single rooms to also engages with current conditions and experiences of lockdown.


Masha Gessen, "Why Psychiatric Wards Are Uniquely Vulnerable to the Coronavirus," The New Yorker, April 20 2020

Jason DeParle, "The Coronavirus Class Divide: Space and Privacy," New York Times, April 12 2020

Tom Wall, "Cramped living conditions may be accelerating UK spread of coronavirus," The Guardian, April 12 2020

Alexandre WhiteEpidemic Imaginaries: Disease and the Redrawing of the Polis

The most sustained research into acute epidemics such as recent epidemics of Ebola Virus Disease in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, zika virus, or yellow fever epidemics most often arise in the fuzzy domain of Global Health research which focuses by in large upon the concerns and health problems occurring in the developing world. This leaves spaces like Europe and North America outside of the realm of direct analysis save for migrant populations, and the international organizations and geopolitical entities involved in health policy making. Epidemics of these diseases, disproportionately having far greater effects outside the over-developed West than within highlight a myth of the  yawning gaps between modernity and the ‘uncivilized’ rest of the world. This paper examines how the COVID-19  pandemic has thrown the modern west from the myth of its own technical and scientific superiority in the face of plagues. The history of international infectious disease control and regulation has largely been one in which powerful imperial or European and North American nations have held themselves up as the exemplars of sanitation, health and hygiene at risk from a backwards rest of the world. In this paper we will look at the formulation of this myth and the factors that have shaped its legacy in the domain of infectious disease control and the regulation of bodies in international space.

Article Details

How to Cite
White, A., & Topp, L. (2020). Forms of Urban and Medical Exclusion: Thursday, May 14th Z-Panel | 3:00PM EDT. Care for the Polis. Retrieved from