Translating COVID-19: From Contagion to Containment

Journal of Medical Humanities 43 (3):387-404 (2022)
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Abstract

This article tests the hypothesis that all pandemics are inherently translational. We argue that translation and translation theory can be fruitfully used to understand and manage epidemics, as they help us explore concepts of infectivity and immunity in terms of cultural and biological resistance. After examining the linkage between translation and coronavirus disease from three different yet interlinked perspectives—cultural, medical, and biocultural—we make a case for a translational medical humanities framework for tackling the multifactorial crisis brought about by the SARS-CoV-2 infection. This innovative entanglement of perspectives has the merit of carving out a new space for translation research at the intersection of the sciences and the humanities, providing sustainable ways to conceptualize the production of science at times of crisis, and challenging conventional views of translation as a primarily linguistic and cultural phenomenon that traditionally does not engage with science.

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