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What can the Nazi period teach us about COVID?

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What can the Nazi period teach us about COVID?

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What can the Nazi period teach us about COVID?

Wednesday 18 August
1pm

Speaker: Dr Michael Robertson

While humanity remains in constant anxiety and disorientation about the incessant changes wrought by COVID-19, is it possible to understand the implications of this period for our future? Can other moments of extremity from history teach us anything about our current situation?

The pandemic has brought into sharp focus existing injustice, inequality and inequity – from scientific racism, ableism, ageism and resurgent xenophobia and nationalism. There exists now an analogous circumstance to the moral panic caused by the social and economic crises of the 1930s. How are we to avoid the same catastrophic situation that followed?

In this discussion, Dr Michael Robertson will revisit the Nazi’s biological project and how it enabled the creation of a biological other, defined by race, disability and sexuality. Through the lens of “biopolitics” (the control of the modern state over the biology of the population), he will examine the starting point of the Nazi persecution of the “other”: the assumption of a relative valuation of life. He will then apply these lessons to the recently observed tragedies of the pandemic and how history might guide us to a different future.

Dr Michael Robertson is Clinical Associate Professor School of Public Health at the University of Sydney and Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Sydney Jewish Museum

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