Based on a touring exhibition organized by Para Site in 2013, A Journal of the Plague Year critically analyzes ideas of disease, contamination, and the politics of fear throughout history and in contemporary society. Taking a global perspective, the book points to the intersections of post-colonial psychology, urban studies, popular culture, racism, public health and migration, national identity, and art.
The book contains by twelve essays and excerpts of historical texts. Color plates of works from the exhibition are interjected between these texts on thicker, green, glossy pages, performing the idea of plague as a sudden and seemingly arbitrary infection. The book makes extensive use of British typefaces—a modern serif, Austin, and Guardian Sans, both drawn by Commercial Type—to echo the British colonial history of Hong Kong. In an uneasy juxtaposition, Austin’s romantic flourishes contrast with the book’s morbid subject matter.