by the Past & Present editorial team
Ahead of the publication of “The Human, the Animal and the Pre-History of Covid-19” Prof. Sujit Sivasundaram (Gonville and Caius, Cambridge) exploration of the historical roots of the current pandemic crisis Dr. Stefan Hanß (Manchester) had interviewed him about the background to his work. The interview is avaible via the University of Manchester website.
The interview is introduced in the following terms:
“Sujit Sivasundaram is Professor of World History at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Gonville and Caius College Cambridge. His work on the eighteenth-century Indian and Pacific Oceans is of breathtaking innovativeness and brings global history and the history of empires into a conversation with the history of science, environmental history, and the history of race and ethnicity. Most recently, Sujit Sivasundaram published a thought-provoking Past & Present article on the history of interspecies encounters between pangolins and humans, which also discusses the future of historical research in light of the current pandemic. In this interview, Sujit Sivasundaram took the time to respond to a few follow-up questions on the role of microscopic records in future research on interspecies histories.
Early modern colonial encounters dynamised human-animal and animal-animal encounters. You co-edited a fascinating special journal issue on “nonhuman empires”. In your recent Past & Present article, you argue that the early modern period was a crucial time for re-negotiating the settings of what you call “interspecies frontiers”: the accelerated human intrusion into global wildlife shaped unstable human-animals relationships that increased the potential for zoonotic transfers. This line of thought prompts historians to reconsider early modern colonialism as affecting all kinds of different livelihoods, human and non-human. This opens fascinatingly new avenues of research…”
Read the full piece here.
In response to the ongoing Covid-19 public health emergency, Past & Present worked with Prof. Sujit Sivasundaram (Gonville and Caius, Cambridge) to produce a piece exploring the very roots of the crisis, by exploring humans’ millenia long relationship with the pangolin. In doing so, the article has much to say about our complex and often fraught relationship with the natural world, other species and each other. It will be online and avliable via our publishers Oxford University Press Academic soon.