Alexandre White

Alexandre White

Assistant Professor

PhD, Boston University
Curriculum Vitae
Mergenthaler 541B
On Leave - AY 2022-23

I joined the Johns Hopkins Faculty in 2019 after completing a Provost’s Post-Doctoral Fellowship here. I earned my B.A. in Black Studies from Amherst College, my MSc. in Sociology from the London School of Economics and Political Science and my PhD  in Sociology from Boston University. I am also jointly affiliated with the Department of the History of Medicine as an Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine and am an Associate Director for the Center For Medical Humanities and Social Medicine.

Comparative Historical Sociology; Medical Sociology; Post-Colonial Theory; Global and Transnational Sociology; Sociology of Race and Ethnicity; Sociology of Global Health

My work examines the social effects of infectious epidemic outbreaks in both historical and contemporary settings as well as the global mechanisms that produce responses to outbreak. My book project, Epidemic Colonialism: A Social History of International Disease Response, explores the historical roots of international responses to epidemic threats. This book will examine how certain epidemic outbreaks become "global threats", that is, diseases that become the focus of international regulations and organized responses while others do not. To answer this question, this work draws upon archival data collected at the World Health Organization (WHO) archives in Geneva, the Western Cape Archives in Cape Town, the British Library, British National Archives, the Wellcome Library Archives in London, and twelve qualitative interviews with senior global health actors in order to analyze five cases when disease threats were prioritized internationally as well as how these constructions patterned responses to outbreaks. I begin by exploring the formation of the first international disease controls in the 19th century, the International Sanitary Conventions, created to prevent the spread of three diseases- plague, cholera and yellow fever. I probe how these earliest conventions patterned responses to diseases covered under them and limited responses to those beyond their scope. Examining how these conventions transformed, I explore why the same disease priorities were maintained by the WHO in their International Sanitary Regulations of the 1950’s. Finally, I analyze the transformation of the International Health Regulations in 2005 and its effects on the assessment of disease threat. 

My published work in the field  has demonstrated how differences in the perceived threat of deadly diseases have provoked anomalous responses to outbreaks. Global Risks, Divergent Pandemics: Contrasting Responses To Bubonic Plague And Smallpox In 1901 Cape Town,  in Social Science History explores two simultaneous epidemics that, despite similar pathologies, prompted significantly varying responses from public health actors in 1901 Cape Town: the bubonic plague and smallpox. My work in fields beyond medical sociology has primarily explored questions of racial subjectivities, anti-colonial revolution and uprising and structures of colonial domination and resistance.

230.306 Plagues, Power and Social Control

Social Medicine I and II (School of Medicine)

Regulating Infectious Disease 1852 to the Present (School of Public Health)

Harris, Joseph, and Alexandre White (joint authorship). “The Sociology of Global Health: A Literature Review.” Sociology of Development 5, no. 1 (March 1, 2019): 9–30.

Hammer, Ricarda and Alexandre I. R. White (joint authorship). 2018. “Toward a Sociology of Colonial Subjectivity: Political Agency in Haiti and Liberia:” Sociology of Race and             Ethnicity - The Political Economy of the World System Graduate Student Paper Award: American Sociological Association  2018; The Peace, War and Social Conflict Section's Elise Boulding Graduate Student Paper Award: American Sociological Association 2018

White, Alexandre I. R. 2017. “Global Risks, Divergent Pandemics: Contrasting Responses To Bubonic Plague And Smallpox In 1901 Cape Town.” Social Science History1–24. Https://Doi.Org/10.1017/Ssh.2017.41. - Best Graduate Student Paper Award in Global and Transnational Sociology: American Sociological Association 2015

Cited in CNN article, January 26, 2020

Interviewed on NPR, December 11, 2019