Epidemic Objects in Museums: Cholera, Storytelling, and Ecological Disturbance

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningfagfællebedømt

The Covid19 pandemic has made it painfully clear that global interconnectedness may explode in virulent contagion. Against this background, the article looks to another disease outbreak and engages an object from a historical cholera epidemic, namely a nineteenth century sealed flask containing gut secretion from a Nordic cholera patient. The so-called cholera bottle, now held in Copenhagen Medical Museion, works as an “epidemic object”, implying that its contents may spread along uncontrollable paths, producing and transforming nation states, medical frontiers, hotspots and havens along the way. Through open-ended fieldwork around the cholera bottle, pursuing unforeseen relations between then and now, here and there, and cholera and wider ecologies, the article suggests that such epidemic objects force us to pay acute attention to the choices that underpin museums’ storytelling. As such, the cholera bottle can point to highly problematic structures of global transmission – of scientific knowledge, virus, and health resources in an era of ecological disturbance – which is vital for museums for them to respond adequately to the pandemic.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftNordisk Museologi
Vol/bind2-3
Udgave nummer2021
Sider (fra-til)5-19
Antal sider15
ISSN1103-8152
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 2021

ID: 250226244