Alison M David (Ryerson University, Canada). Facing Danger: Medical, Criminal, and Fashionable Masking Practices in Historical Perspective

Many cultures and eras have masked the face in the context of ritual, performance and defence. Since the Renaissance, they have also been used for medical protection from epidemics. From the plague doctors with their perfumed, beaked masks to today’s N95 Personal Protective “Equipment”, medical professionals have donned masks in the context of disease outbreaks. This paper examines that trajectory but also explores some of the other “occupational” and aesthetic contexts for masks, from their association with criminal disguise to the way in which they have swiftly “gone viral” as fashionable protective accessories across the world today during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alison M David>>