Justin Stearns states in Foros 2021 that our understanding of the concepts of disease and contagion has barely varied over the last centuries

The American associate professor and researcher closed this edition of the lecture series with a talk on the deepening of the concepts of religion, contagion and pandemic in the pre-modern Islamic world

On 28 April, US professor and researcher Justin Stearns closed the UIC Barcelona School of Architecture’s Foros 2021 lecture series with an online lecture entitled “Religion, Contagion, and Plague in the Premodern Islamicate World”. 

In his talk, Stearns covered the response of the Muslim world to great epidemics throughout history. In this regard, he stressed that our understanding of the concepts of disease and contagion has not changed too much over the centuries. Similarly, he stated that pandemics highlight the intellectual and social frameworks of each era and that history reveals the contingency of the present. “If we look at the current response to COVID 19 in the Muslim world and look at the response to other epidemics over the past 1400 years, the tradition’s great flexibility in responding to pandemics is clear,” he said. 

Justin Stearns is an associate professor in Arab Crossroads Studies at New York University in Abu Dhabi. His research interests focus on the intersection between law, science, and theology in the pre-modern Islamic Middle East. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English and History from Dartmouth College in 1998 and his Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Studies from Princeton University in 2007. His first book was called Infectious Ideas: Contagion in Pre-Modern Islamic and Christian Thought in the Western Mediterranean (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011). He has just published a book entitled Revealed Sciences: The Natural Sciences in Islam in Early Modern Morocco on the social situation of the natural sciences in Morocco at the beginning of modern times. 

Entitled “Expectations” the Foros 2021 lecture series undertook a reflection on the reconstruction scenario as a result of the COVID-19 crisis in all sectors of society, with a special focus on architecture and urban planning.

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