Monday, November 09, 2020

Is the pandemic history yet?

Since the start of the pandemic lockdowns in Canada, I haven't covered that subject much here. In truth, I don't understand the pandemic. By which I mean I don't have any historical perspective on "the meaning" of it.  I find myself feeling we will have to live through it for a while longer before I have any big ideas about what it means. As to surviving this pandemic, I take a great deal of interest. But, for purposes of this blog, you might say, I don't seem to have a lot of interest in the topic. It's not yet that good for thinking with.

Also I have retained a certain suspicion that when/if it goes away, a lot of people and the institutions they work for will happily abandon working from home, won't they? That is to say, a lot of pre-pandemic normality may return and there will be a lot of forgetting. The flu pandemic of 1918-19 seems to have left limited influence behind it, considering the death tolls. And certain countries seem already to be ignoring the pandemic, even as it is killing their citizens by the tens of thousands.  

Writing at Borealia recently, Jerry Bannister refers us back to Dennis McKim's essay from last April "Canadian History after Covid-19," which argued why one consequence might be a shift away from "globalism" -- and with it the transnational emphasis that typifies a lot of historical practice these days. (The extensive comments attached to McKim's piece are worth reading.)

Bannister now notes how much our attempts to give meaning to the pandemic have been, in effect, attempts to predict the future. Well, we don't do the future here much. 

Follow @CmedMoore