CfP: HPLS COVID.-19 topical collections

We are writing to invite you to submit a paper to History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, specifically, to one of two Topical Collections that we are planning to host on the current pandemic. The aim of these collections, as specified in the Call For Papers below (and at these links: and ), is to bring expertise from the history, philosophy, and social studies of the life sciences broadly conceived to bear on the COVID-19 pandemic. We are aiming for broad representation of the many different perspectives within our global community, and we are particularly hoping that you will be able to contribute, given your world-leading expertise on justice and discrimination concerns associated to scientific knowledge-making.  

As you see below, your contribution would not have to be long: the first of our CFPs looks for short, incisive contributions calling attention to specific aspects of the pandemic. If you are interested in writing a longer paper, the second CFP invites standard-length contributions with the opportunity for detailed analysis.

We very much hope that it will be possible for you to accept this invitation, and thus enter in dialogue with us and other authors from our broad community. Don't hesitate to get in touch if you need further information.

Giovanni Boniolo, Sabina Leonelli, Lisa Onaga, David Teira, editors

Preliminary note: Titles, abstracts, and keywords, must include searchable terms like virus, SARS, coronavirus, COVID-19, SARS-COV-2, etc.

Topical Collection 1

Title:  Seeing Clearly Through COVID-19: Current and future questions for the history and philosophy of the life sciences

Editors: G. Boniolo - L. Onaga

Rationale:  This epidemic of global proportions has seemingly surprised everyone, from laymen, laywomen and children, to politicians, economists, clinicians and biomedical researchers. The world-wide pandemic has drastically changed our ways of living and will likely continue to change our ways of living in the future. At the same time, historical reflections have indicated that there have been precedents for the conditions leading up to and representing the disastrous effects taking place. It is the right moment to humanistically reflect simultaneously upon what has been happening and what is going to happen to our lives, planet, socio-economical relationships, and interpretations of our own meanings of life. The time is critical to think seriously through these historical and philosophical issues in terms of global health and global justice. HPLS wishes to invite a diverse group of scholars representing different regions of the world, disciplines, and intersectional concerns to produce short papers that each grapple with a historical-sociological-political-epistemological-ethical question. These papers would not only engage with current aspects raised or stimulated by the COVID-19 pandemic but also with views concerning questions about our future. Together, we hope these collected papers could design a foundation for ongoing conversations that highlight the expertise and contributions of scholars in the history and philosophy of the life sciences. In particular, we appreciate that the following themes could be tackled: scientific experts and laypeople; national science policies and international scientific organizations; governance and governmentality; uncertainty; policy requirements and political interference; big data; privacy and social control; herd immunity; eugenics; assessment of epidemiological positions; clinical and biomedical research; vulnerable and fragile groups; death and suffering; legal and illegal businesses; zoonotic diseases; environmental links; scientific globalization; re-globalization; vaccine research, animal models and experimentation on humans; structural and latent racism; agriculture; food security; etc. 

Format: Short pieces of about 1000 words, excluding references (max 10), abstract consisting of no more than two or three sentences, and a maximum of three keywords. Each question has to be well-posed and effectively contextualized both in the literature and in real health and field frameworks.

Publishing process: Authors have to send their pieces to HPLS through the Editorial Manager, choosing Notes &Comments and, then, our Topical Collection "Seeing Clearly Through COVID-19." Manuscripts will be handled by Boniolo and Onaga, and they will undergo a light reviewing process involving at least one external reviewer. Manuscripts will be sent to production and published online immediately following acceptance, so as to facilitate the swift publication of research pieces of high societal and scholarly relevance.  

Time window: Beginning of papers acceptance: August 15, 2020; Closure of papers acceptance: December 31, 2020.

Topical Collection 2

Title Biomedical knowledge in a time of COVID-19: Historical and Philosophical Perspectives

Editors: D. Teira – S. Leonelli 

Rationale: This Topical Collection brings together scholarly reflections on the COVID-19 pandemic from scholars in the history, philosophy and social studies of biology and biomedicine. Themes may include, but are not limited to, the role of modelling, data practices and uncertainty in pandemic science and policy responses; the genealogies and reconfigurations of life science expertise in the face of the pandemic; the biopolitics and governance of biological knowledge, particularly in related fields such as epidemiology and immunology; the implications for research organizations and management worldwide, including experimental practices and work with non-human organisms; the intersection between private and public research activities and services, including with regard to population monitoring and public health services, across countries; the history and implications of the specific discourse and metaphors (e.g. military) used to depict human relationships with disease; relevant conceptual underpinnings and methodological questions in epidemiology, such as how to compare different populations; historical links to eugenics and racism, particularly in relation to the focus (or lack thereof) on vulnerable populations; and methodological reflections on how the pandemic may affect scholarly work in the history, philosophy and social studies of biology. HPLS invites a diverse group of contributors representing different regions of the world, disciplines, and intersectional concerns. We hope that this collection will highlight the relevance and significance of contributions from the history and philosophy of the life sciences towards understanding the roots, unfolding and implications and of the pandemic.

FormatPapers between 5000 and 10000 words, including references.

Publishing process: All papers will be peer-reviewed as soon as possible and will be published online immediately following acceptance, so as to facilitate the swift publication of research pieces of high societal and scholarly relevance.  

Time windowSubmissions are welcome from August 15, 2020 until May 31, 2021. This long window for submission constitutes an exception to normal HPLS practice: it is meant to account for the widely diverging effects of the pandemic on prospective authors around the world (some of whom may have had ample time to research and write due to lock-downs, while others have had to take a break from work due to illness, caring duties or abrupt shifts in their working patterns and focus).