Temporal technologies of epidemics

Med Humanit. 2022 Dec;48(4):e17. doi: 10.1136/medhum-2021-012253. Epub 2022 Jul 11.


The COVID-19 pandemic has largely been made sense of as a crisis However, using crisis as a temporal-analytical category arguably obscures the complexity of the different temporalities at work in the pandemic. In this article, we examine how the pandemic outbreak led to numerous acts of synchronisation and de-synchronisation-between humans and viruses, between social groups and even between historical ages. In order to make sense of the temporal consequences of an epidemic, we introduce the concept of 'temporal technologies', understood as a set of procedures that control, regulate, produce and assemble time in relational networks of both human and non-human actors. This article thus attempts to create a framework for understanding the epidemic experience in temporal terms by using 'temporal technologies' as an analytical tool.

Keywords: COVID-19; cultural history; medical humanities; politics; public health.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Epidemics*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Technology