The Ghost Map

"The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic - And How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World" (2006) by Steven Johnson is the story of cholera in Victorian London and how germ theory emerged. The book is well written, conveyed through the key figures involved, and enjoyable. The author weaves in the macro and with the micro, such as urbanization, and towards the end speaks of germ warfare (amongst other threats). Not an academic work, an interesting read during a time of pandemic.

One random note on the connection between diet and change: "The dramatic increase of people available to populate the new urban spaces of the Industrial Age may have had one other cause: tea [amongst others mentioned]. The population growth during the first half of the eighteenth century neatly coincided with the mass adoption of tea as the de facto national beverage... Brewed tea possesses several crucial antibacterial properties that help ward off waterborne diseases: the tannic acid released in the steeping process kills off those bacteria that haven't already perished during the boiling of the water. The explosion of tea drinking in the late 1700s was, from the bateria's point of view, a microbial holocaust. Physicians observed a dramatic drop in dysentry and child mortality during the period." (p. 94-95) 

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Post-doc: Mobility & Political Authority

Under the auspices of the South African Research Chair for Mobility & the Politics of Difference, the African Centre for Migration & Society at Wits University seeks applications for a 1-2 year post-doctoral fellowship. This position is a response to unprecedented levels of urbanisation and mobility across the African continent. Driven by conflict, ambition, and respatialising economies, such movements are generating novel and theoretically challenging socio-political formations. We welcome applicants from across the social sciences interested in how human movements are transforming modes of social engagement, authority, and political representation in sub-Saharan cities. 

Starting during the first half of 2017, the successful applicant will join an interdisciplinary team of scholars aiming to reshape global social theory and academic conversations on mobility, cities and political authority and ethics. Such work is intended to open new scholarly frontiers and while informing and enhancing sub-Saharan Africa's visibility in both academic and policy debates. With a home base in Johannesburg, scholars will be encouraged to develop and participate in projects across the region. 

Applications are due December 1, 2016. For more information, contact Loren B Landau: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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PhD Opportunity: Formation of Urbanity

The Institute of Social Anthropology and the interdisciplinary program in Urban and Landscape Studies at the University of Basel are offering two PhD positions for the SNF-funded research project Making the City: Agency, Urbanity and Urbanisation in Ordinary Cities (2016–2019)The project will explore the formation of urbanity by comparing respective processes in four cities of the Global South: Goma, DR Congo; Cartagena, Colombia; Johannesburg, South Africa and Yaoundé, Cameroon. Based on qualitative, interpretive and comparative methodology, fieldwork is planned in all four cities by two senior, two post-doc and two PhD researchers. PhD candidates are expected to conduct field research in one of the four cities according to their experience and choice in close collaboration with the other members of the research.

More details.

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