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Accepted Paper:

Contact tracing, wellbeing and liable relations: reciprocity, individual becoming and kinship during the COVID-19 pandemic.  
Gitika Saksena (SOAS University of London) Abhishek Mohanty (SOAS)

Paper short abstract:

This paper studies individual becoming situated in the reciprocity and liable relations of wellbeing as engendered by contact tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic. In doing so, it compares institutional narratives and implied governmentality with individual subjectivities and perceived kinship.

Paper long abstract:

Institutionalised responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, have evolved from ‘denial and dysfunction’ (The Washington Post 2020), ‘herd immunity’ (Independent 2020), ‘medieval techniques’ (The Telegraph 2020) of ‘social quarantine’ (Foucault 1991a: 216), to panoptic patient-wise ‘case files’ (The Straits Times 2020) and now, contact tracing. In England, narratives around the NHS contact tracing app position it as a ‘choice’ between ‘individual, group and national privacy’ and the ‘minimum information’ needed to ‘manage the spread of the virus’ (NCSC 2020). A vocabulary of an imagined community against an unknown enemy is thus perpetuated, re-situating wellbeing as not only institutional but also that which is embodied by individuals in an imbricated notion of accountability and kinship (Desjarlais & Throop 2011). In this context, the paper asks how individuals define wellbeing and who they include in their web of reciprocal relationships, contra institutional assumptions around family or kinship units and interactions. It interrogates how this Latouresque assemblage of humans, virus and app determines the perception of wellbeing as an object of knowledge, and accordingly shapes liable relations within communities, that is, between ‘small world networks representing households' and a 'second network representing work places, schools or regular social environments' ( 2020). Additionally, it examines Deleuzian becoming as data, citizen, and virus and who thereby emerges: homo economicus or homo reciprocans. This paper will leverage semi-structured interviews with individual app users in London, social media ethnography of posts, videos and surveys in this period, and textual analysis of communiques by the government, NHS and media.

Panel Heal07b
Responsible (well)being as liable relations II
  Session 1 Tuesday 30 March, 2021, -