Was China the Source of the Plague?

Wed, Feb 21, 2018, 4:30 pm

Contemporaries of the 14th-century Black Death in Europe believed that the plague had come to them from China, thanks to the Mongols. This belief in Chinese origin gained support with the eruption of the third pandemic in the 1890s, when the plague traveled outward across the South China Sea and spread to many parts of the world, including the Americas. A few academic skeptics started to doubt the claim twenty years ago, but only on the basis of the then-current state of knowledge of the plague. Advances in microbiology and genome sequencing since 2000 have altered the debate, as has more recent discussions on whether plague outbreaks are climate-driven. In this presentation, I put some of the latest findings from science against the Yuan and Ming documentary record to ask, once again, whether China was the source of the plague. 

Professor Brook is author of several  prize-winning books, including Vermeer's Hat: The Seventeenth Century and the Dawn of the Global World (2008) and The Confusions of Pleasure: Commerce and Culture in Ming China (2000).

202 Jones
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Upcoming Events

Book Talk--Waka and Things, Waka as Things

Mon, Feb 19, 2018, 4:30 pm
Location: 202 Jones

Was China the Source of the Plague?

Wed, Feb 21, 2018, 4:30 pm
Location: 202 Jones

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Conference--Epistemic Breakdowns and Crises in East Asia

Fri, Mar 2, 2018 (All day) to Sat, Mar 3, 2018 (All day)
Location: 202 Jones

Noh Play Performance and Lecture

Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 5:00 pm
Location: Drapkin Studio, Lewis Center for the Arts

In Search of Fortune: Migration and Risk in the Pacific World

Fri, Mar 9, 2018 (All day) to Sat, Mar 10, 2018 (All day)
Location: 211 Dickinson Hall

Paintings, Songs, and Board Games: Travels to Kŭmgangsan in Late Chosŏn Korea (1600-1900)

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Site: The Impossibility of Remembering the Past at Nanjing

Tue, Mar 27, 2018, 12:00 pm
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