Netherlands American Studies Association

Call for Papers: Public Health and Disease in the American Century, 20-22 October 2021, RIAS

The Roosevelt Institute for American Studies in Middelburg invites applications to a conference dedicated to situating the COVID-19 pandemic in American and global history.

This conference seeks to interrogate the American Century through the lens of the US government’s responsibility for improving public health and fighting disease. It takes a broad, parabolic view of the 20th century, book-ending both domestic (the local responses to containing the Spanish flu outbreaks in 1918-1920 and the federal-state contest for control in 2020) and international developments (the Wilsonian blueprint for world order after WWI and the Trumpian abandonment of the WHO in 2020). How does the subject of public health, both domestically and internationally, change our understanding of the American Century and where we are now in 2020/2021?

The RIAS welcomes conference papers on any of the following subjects:

  • Disease and US foreign policy – disease and development aid, military intervention, and as a national security threat;
  • The US, internationalism, and global public health;
  • The role of government and non-government organizations in public health and the shifting lines of responsibility;
  • The connections between public health, socio-economic and racial inequalities, and political action;
  • Cultural, literary, and artistic reflections on disease, social (dis)order, and public health;

For more information please check the RIAS website.

If you would like to join us as a speaker at this event, please send a CV and 250-word proposal to

The deadline for proposals is 1 December 2020. All proposals will receive a reply by 31 January 2021.

The conference will be based on pre-circulated papers. Participants will be asked to prepare and send in a draft paper of 3000 words by 1 September 2021.

We hope to be able to hold the conference on location at the Institute. Of course, should this prove impossible or unwise, we will consider either postponing or switching to some form of online format.