Lunch Talk (open to the public) on Thursday, April 20th, 2023, 1 p.m.

Making sense of the pandemic through historical analogies
Prof. Dr. Brady Wagoner

Aalborg University and University of Kopenhagen, Denmark

The COVID-19 pandemic abruptly transformed our lives, sending us in search of explanations to make sense of the disorienting situation. A principal means for doing this has been the use of historical analogies, which give shape to the present circumstances by creating parallels to historical events. This paper uses data from the Viral Communication Project, a German longitudinal study (from December 2020 to September 2021) that involved a large national representative survey as well as 38 interview participants.  The interviews reveal the use of key historical analogies during the pandemic, such as previous pandemics (e.g. the 1918 pandemic and swine flu), medical scandals (e.g., the Contergan scandal), and the Nazi regime (e.g., state control, political propaganda and persecution of minorities). The analysis shows how these changes over time and the functions they serve for differently positioned actors. Historical analogies are particularly strong amongst those that are against the government restrictions and vaccination (or in general state intervention). Finally, the analysis explores historical analogy’s connection with minority influence and conspiracy beliefs as a form of counter memory. 

Brady Wagoner is Professor at the University of Copenhagen and Aalborg University, Denmark. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge, where he also co-created the F.C. Bartlett Internet Archive. His research focuses on the cultural and constructive dimensions of the mind, particularly in relation to memory, history and social change. His books include The Constructive Mind: Bartlett’s Psychology in Reconstruction (Cambridge University Press, 2017), the Handbook of Culture and Memory (Oxford University Press, 2018) and Remembering as a Cultural Process with I. Bresco and S.H. Awad (Springer, 2019). He has received a number of prestigious awards, including the Humboldt Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in 2021 and the Sigmund Koch Award from the American Psychological Association in 2019. 

The guest lecture will be held at the SFU Berlin, Columbiadamm 10, Turm 9 (behind the refugee camp), 12101 Berlin. Please consult the display in the left wing for the exact room. As we will provide snacks and beverages, please register for participation via e-mail:
Max Vogel:

Unfortunately, the SFU Tempelhof Campus is not barrier-free. But please do not hesitate to contact us to find individual solutions. We do our utmost to ensure participation