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COVID-19 has shown us how it is important to develop ethnographic sensibilities, and that this requires collaboration. This session is designed to draw together participants' unfolding inquiries on pandemics, beyond Medical Anthropology, joining scholars from various fields and perspectives.
Even as we attempt to keep SARS-CoV-2 viruses away, we are all infected by viral waves of naturalcultural forms that seek to make COVID-19 feel frighteningly close or comfortingly far away, to amplify or disappear its effects on space, relations with humans and nonhumans, psyches, etc. Given their scale, heterogeneity, and global dispersion, developing ethnographic sensibilities adequate to pandemic encounters requires collaboration, and this session is designed to draw together participants' unfolding inquiries. Like the epidemiological contours of the disease, it is impossible to determine in advance the subjects and objects, technologies and infrastructures that will form the crucial foci of attention in June, 2021, but our present projections include (but are not limited to) the following: complex entanglements of forms of political and scientific-medical performance, including politicians' voicings of anti-science and anti-state discourses; attempts by public health "experts" to dominate narrative production and circulation by suppressing proliferating forms of popular knowledge deemed conspiracy theories, hoaxes, and myths; COVID-19 vaccines as loci of salvation, anti-vax fears, and pharmaceutical windfalls; ludic and artistic responses to pandemic angst; shifting regimentations of lives and spaces through COVID-19 metrics and statistical imaginaries; processes and effects of the virtualization of communication, sociability, and education, including Zoom bombing and fatigue; complex relations between journalism and social media; and intersections between epidemiological recognition of racialized differences in COVID-19 infection and death rates and widespread demands to confront racism and racialized forms of violence. The organizers seek to maximize the range of geographic, disciplinary, and analytic perspectives included.