Wed • Oct

Wednesday, October 24, 2018



The New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029


Free, advanced registration required

Many social, economic, and political factors affect urban health on local, regional and global scales. Examples from near and far, past and present, abound. In the 18th century, yellow fever coursed from city to city across the world as merchant shipping helped spread the disease. As cities incubated the disease, social relations among urban communities were reconfigured. In modern times, increasing urbanism—the unintended effect of agricultural policies compounded by political instability and social prejudice—led to outbreaks of disease. The entrenchment of Chagas disease—a debilitating and sometime fatal infection—made the city of Arequipa, Peru, a microcosm for the way cities shape disease, and a model for the recent bedbug outbreak in New York City.

Join American historian Billy Smith and epidemiologist Michael Levy for a conversation that uses both science and history to understand the intersection of urban development and the spread of contagions.

This program is co-presented with the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine with funding generously provided by the Pew Charitable Trusts as part of a three year series of forums that will expand public knowledge about the history of pathbreaking scientific development and their impact on society. 

About the Speakers

Michael Levy is Associate Professor of Epidemiology in Biostatistics at the Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Levy works at the interface of epidemiology, ecology and statistics to understand and control vector-borne and other infectious diseases. His team uses quantitative and qualitative methods to elucidate the factors that have led to the urbanization of a disease traditionally associated with rural poverty. Recently Dr. Levy's lab has begun to work on the bed bug problem in Philadelphia.

Billy Smith is Distinguished Professor in the Department of History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies at Montana State University. He earned his PhD at University of California Los Angeles. His research interests include disease; race, class and slavery; early America, and mapping early America. Much of his research focuses on poorer peple and runaway slaves in early America as well as the experience of everyday life.  His recent publications include Ship of Death: The Voyage that Changed the Atlantic World (Yale University Press, 2013), Class Matters: Early North America and the Atlantic World (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008), and Down and Out in Early America (University Park, PA: Penn State Press, 2004). 

Event series:
History of Medicine and Health