The transmission in 2003 of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) around the world “at the speed of a jet airplane” (Health Canada, 2003, p. 23) raises questions about the complex intersections of globalization, time, and diseases. Contemporary globalization processes have deterritorialized the world through global financial markets and rapid expansion in modes of travel in all parts of the sphere (Aaltola, 2012). Through the emergence of global networks of transportation and communication that link countries and cities in new, more integrated ways, increasing transnational contacts, travel, and integration have given rise to new health threats. Not surprisingly, international and global health organizations have framed the new challenges in terms of security. Primarily they use spatiality-based measures (e.g. border control); this framing, however, overlooks the important changes in the nature and experience of time that have accompanied economic, political, cultural, and social globalizing processes. These processes have led to the “speeding up” of time, to new forms of time, and to changes in the relationship between time and space/place, as well as between different temporalities. These changes, in turn, produce such phenomena as “time-space compression,” “timeless time,” “spaces of flow,” “simultaneity” and “multi-temporality” (Castells, 2009; Harvey, 1990; Rosa, 2009; Scholte, 2005). In recent years the emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) such as SARS, avian

flu, H1N1, Ebola, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) testify to the difficulties globalizing processes present for public health surveillance and interventions. The increased global movements of people and microbes have generated temporal uncertainties when it comes to the speed of transmission and the pressure to respond quickly to disease outbreaks. The fast trans-border transmission of infectious agents arises from steep increases in the volume, frequency, and scope of international travels of humans, animals and plants which spread pathogens. These difficulties generate questions about traditional state-centric, often spatiality-based, approaches to disease control and health governance. Technological advances since the 1970s have accelerated contemporary

globalizing processes which, in turn, have changed the speed of the circulation

of pathogens. In response, actors at all levels of global public health are pressed to speed up their responses. Differences in the experiences of, and capacities for, “speeding up” of time have created profound new challenges to both domestic responses and global collaboration to control the spread of infectious diseases. Despite proliferation of globalizing linkages among national economies, the continued legitimacy and importance of state borders also pose challenges to addressing trans-border phenomena related to health and disease. Viewing it as a disease of speed, this article examines SARS as a case of

EIDs in the context of contemporary globalization. Primarily drawing on theories of “acceleration” and the “global cities network,” we explore the challenges and possibilities of global health exemplified by this disease in a globally interconnected and, increasingly, interdependent world. This theoretical framework allows us to understand time as both a standardized overarching system (e.g. “universal” clock time) and as a multi-dimensional construct associated with technology, place, politics, and history. It also assists in studying the intersectional relationships among globalization, time and disease. Guided by these theories, we present our case study in two parts. First we review the 2003 SARS crisis from a temporal perspective – in particular, its accelerated spread through the global cities network – and second the rapid, yet temporally contested, responses by some major affected countries to the simultaneity of the crisis. In the section that follows, we examine how the response to SARS at a global level suggests a promising new approach to managing temporal challenges posed by EIDs. We contend that the accelerated transmission of SARS has exposed the limitations of traditional spatiality-based approaches to infectious diseases, disease control and health governance. When the advances in information and communication technologies (ICTs) in recent decades have accelerated the diffusion of pathogens, actors at all levels of global public health are pressed to keep up with the new temporalities.