The goal of this afterword is to orient the book’s analysis of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century epidemiology toward contemporary (modern) epidemics and criticism. This goal is achieved through a critique of contemporary representations of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Africa. By placing these distant historical periods in dialogue with one another, the afterword underscores a major theme of the book, which centers on the representational issues that are at stake when writing about immunity, infection, and contagion. While this engagement with contemporary Africa may seem like a counterintuitive move in an Early American studies monograph, it is an echo of Perry Miller’s famously epiphanic moment on the banks of the Congo, when his vision of a singular, monolithic New England mind was “thrust” upon him. I use this critique as a platform for thinking about the relationship between epidemiological analysis and both the grammars and geographies of colonialism.
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