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Empires of PanicEpidemics and Colonial Anxieties$
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Robert Peckham

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9789888208449

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888208449.001.0001

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Don’t Panic! The “Excited and Terrified” Public Mind from Yellow Fever to Bioterrorism

Don’t Panic! The “Excited and Terrified” Public Mind from Yellow Fever to Bioterrorism

Chapter:
(p.155) 7 Don’t Panic! The “Excited and Terrified” Public Mind from Yellow Fever to Bioterrorism
Source:
Empires of Panic
Author(s):

Amy L. Fairchild

David Merritt Johns

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789888208449.003.0007

Fairchild and Johns undertake a theoretical and empirical consideration of mass infectious disease panics in the United States. They argue that contemporary concerns about panic rehearse earlier experiences of panic. Adapting the notion of the “social drama” developed by the cultural anthropologist Victor Turner, they propose the “panic drama” as a means of elucidating the “script” that underlies late nineteenth and twentieth-century panic responses. Through the lenses of yellow fever, influenza, smallpox, swine flu, and biowarfare (later called bioterrorism), they show how panic has been bound “into the very construction of epidemics.” Their purpose is to trace how the “panic drama” has been modified over more than a century, with dramatic components reconfigured—as well as examining the shifting role that institutions and authority have played in this process—while the basic panic narrative has been maintained.

Keywords:   Panics, Diseases, Fire, Colonies, Policies, Government, History, Empires, Technology

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