Today at King’s! Dr Marcus Hall on ‘The Benefits of Being Parasitized: Symbiosis in World History’

We are very pleased to welcome Dr Marcus Hall, Senior Lecturer at the University of Zurich, for the seminar in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine series, which will be held today, Weds 23 October at 5pm in S8.08, Strand Building.

MarcDr Hall will be speaking on ‘The Benefits of Being Parasitized: symbiosis in world history

Today’s massive Human Microbiome Project is revealing that vast floras and faunas live within our gut, and showing that all this biodiversity varies from body to body, place to place, and century to century. While such scholars as Alfred Crosby and the McNeills (Jr & Sr) have argued that exported pathogens have produced far-reaching historical effects, there is little acknowledgement or explanation of the effects of all the other inert or innocuous microcreatures that have been transported between and within continents. Dr Hall’s paper will explore the exportation not of pathogens, but of symbiotic relationships of host and parasite, which are not always deadly. While my main case study is the malaria parasite and its human host, Hall focuses on symbiosis as a key historical agency. Malaria’s Plasmodium parasite and Homo sapiens have crossed oceans together, at times producing widespread suffering while at other times hardly being noticed. By highlighting classic controversies of parasitological science, Dr Hall seeks to offer answers as to why a novel symbiont has been so deadly in one situation and so harmless in another. In his talk, Hall will argue that changing relationships between parasite and host may be more important for explaining human histories than disease pathogens alone.

All are Welcome!
Weds 23 October at 5pm in S8.08, Strand Building


One comment

  1. I am fascinated and encouraged by the widespread evidence of symbiosis – philosophically this has a huge and counterbalancing impact on what I think of as the capitalistic view of humanity – a dog eat dog, red in tooth and claw, survival of the fittest only understood as the fittest being the strongest, fleetest, most dominant. Whereas symbiosis shows that ‘the fittest’ could also be seen as ‘the most getting along with your fellows’ – a compromise trade-off. Possibly I’m taking it too far, but the evolutionary benefits of altruism – not just because you are securing the survival of your own genes, but the altruism where no genetic material is shared – eg chloroplasts originally assimilated bacteria etc

    Shame I missed the talk – though it may have been way over my head!

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