Pell Center

The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina is a multidisciplinary research center focused at the intersection of politics, policies and ideas.

Exploring the Social History of Tuberculosis with Vidya Krishnan

Air Dates: July 11-17, 2022

Infectious disease has shaped the course of human history—and, as the last couple of years remind us, it continues to do so.  Vidya Krishnan puts the focus on more than just the viruses and bacteria that cause illness, she turns our attention to societal factors like race, gender, and class to understand the anti-science rhetoric and politics that shape so much of the modern world and limit the global response to disease.

Vidya Krishnan is a writer and an award-winning journalist who has been reporting on medical science for the last 20 years.  Based in Goa, India, she has written for the Atlantic, the LA Times, The Hindu, as their health and science editor, and for the British Medical Journal.  Her first book, “Phantom Plague: How Tuberculosis Shaped our History,” traces the history of tuberculosis, from its origins as a haunting mystery in the slums of 19th-century New York to its modern reemergence that now threatens populations around the world.  Krishnan details the folk remedies made way for scientific understanding of tuberculosis and its cure in the West and the disease’s remarkable ability to adapt, aided by authoritarian government, science denialism and medical apartheid.  “Phantom Plague” was published in February 2022.

“Story in the Public Square” broadcasts each week on public television stations across the United States. A full listing of the national television distribution is available at this link. In Rhode Island and southeastern New England, the show is broadcast on Rhode Island PBS on Sundays at 11 a.m. and is rebroadcast Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. An audio version of the program airs Saturdays at 8:30 a.m., 5:30 p.m. ET, and Sundays at 2:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m. ET on SiriusXM’s popular P.O.T.U.S. (Politics of the United States), channel 124. “Story in the Public Square” is a partnership between the Pell Center and The Providence Journal. The initiative aims to study, celebrate and tell stories that matter.

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