Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology

Upcoming Exhibits:

ANTH 467 Online Exhibition

Title: “Epidemics of Injustice”


woman wearing a mask

Epidemics and pandemics are often thought of as causing physical harm to our health, such as that seen with the devastating illness and death brought by the current COVID-19 and historic 1918 influenza pandemic. The online exhibition, “Epidemics of Injustice”, explores how epidemics are more than contagious diseases that infect our bodies. Epidemics are also social, mediated by class, ethnicity, and race, that shape and expose the social injustices and inequalities of our society.

“Epidemics of Injustice,” to open on the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology website in early Spring 2021, aims to expose the destructive and constructive aspects of epidemics and how racism must be understood as an epidemic that overwhelms and harms our society. The interactive online exhibition explores the destructive aspects of current and past epidemics and the social impacts they make in breeding hatred, discrimination, and systemic inequality. The exhibition also illustrates the constructive elements in which connectivity, artistic and cultural expression and advocacy proliferate in times of crisis. “Epidemics of Injustice” will introduce the notion of epidemics and pandemics, epidemiological aspects of viruses, as well as misconceptions over time. The exhibit will highlight how health-related epidemics impact minority, low-income, and socially marginalized communities and contribute to racial and social disparities that include practices of “othering”, xenophobia, discrimination, and prejudice. Using a diversity of media, primary source documents, and personal narratives, the exhibition turns attention to racism as a pandemic infecting our world and how deeply embedded racism is in our country.

The virtual exhibit will combine historic information, personal narratives, andacademic exploration. A call for “objects” will be made to the campus community (faculty, staff, students) on images, videos, art, etc. that they have created or seen that reflects the COVID-19 experience and how the pandemic exposes racial and social injustice.

Considering the sensitivity of this topic, it is planned that there will be virtual exhibit versions for children and adults. Considering the sensitivity of this topic, the online exhibition will offer versions for children and adults.