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Emotions and Plague with Philippa Nicole Barr

Episode 124 - April 12, 2024
Cottage in Bayswater-Road Potts Point

Philippa Nicole Barr (Australia National University) speaks to the Infectious Historians about her work on the public emotions surrounding the outbreak of the third plague pandemic in Australia. Philippa frames the discussion by providing some background about Australia at the turn of the 20th century and how plague reached Australia and led to the 1900 outbreak. She then explains the methods she used writing her book, looking at the history of emotions. The conversation them moves to examine the strategic mobilization of emotion in 1900 – especially in context of the confusion with how plague worked. Philipa speaks specifically about disgust, often through describing things, places and people as disgusting by being ‘dirty’ or associated with ‘dirt’. The invocation of something as dirty could lead to attempts to ameliorate this condition, for example by big sanitation campaigns. Plague, Philippa argues, catalyzed emotional and political responses at the time. 

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Philippa Nicole Barr

Research Officer – School of History – Australia National University



Philippa Barr