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Distributed for UCL Press

Viral Loads

Anthropologies of Urgency in the Time of COVID-19

Distributed for UCL Press

Viral Loads

Anthropologies of Urgency in the Time of COVID-19

A diagnosis of global inequalities exploited by COVID-19 and how we might evolve.
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted some lives more than others. While more than half the world’s population experienced physical restrictions in the wake of the virus, Viral Loads reveals how the international response placed disparate burdens on exploited communities across the globe. Contributors from six continents situate the pandemic within a highly connected yet exceedingly unequal world marked by fragmented communities, austere economies, and unstable governments. Ambitious in its scope, Viral Loads insists that medical anthropology must be part of any future efforts to build a new post-pandemic world.  

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"Viral Loads demonstrates anthropology’s power of description, analysis, and theory to capture a global tragedy as it unfolds. This impressive volume brings together anthropologists from around the world, who draw on their own deep knowledge to trace COVID’s impact on social, economic, and political life. The authors offer compassionate accounts of the power of the virus to exploit and magnify social and structural vulnerabilities, while they present impassioned arguments of the imperative to address underlying inequalities, local and global, that continue to threaten our very existence."

Melissa Parker, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

"In Viral Loads, the editors and contributors offer a penetrating analysis of how, worldwide, the COVID pandemic has exposed and exploited the racially, socioeconomically and globally uneven ways in which people live; it demands, in response, that we extend our rationales emergent from anthropological and interdisciplinary architectures. This broad and intensive work is as much a book of the academy as it is of the heart, with enormously important ramifications for humankind in the present and for the future. As the authors sort through the global mess our species has managed to create, they argue the urgency to address the underlying social, political, and ecological dimensions of inequality, acute stratifications, economic disjunctions, forced human migrations, and political lethargy; without this, we are doomed to face many more rounds of equivalent pandemic disasters. From the Amazon to the Sonoran Desert, and from Pretoria to Mumbai, the narrative is excruciatingly tragic yet ironically hopeful. All are immensely tired of seeing death visiting unequally, but none have permitted their exhaustion to diminish their commitment to enhance the lives of the communities and people whom they champion and to speak to power. This is a magnificent work of action and reflection that must be read carefully and with care. To not do so is to ensure the present as the continuing model for the future."

Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez, Arizona State University

"This impressive collection of well researched and preciously substantiated essays shows that evidence-based scholarship has not gone to sleep despite the Covid-19 menace and its imposition of physical and social distancing. If anything, the pandemic has introduced an urgency to social inquiry informed by improvisation and complementarity between virtual and face-to-face encounters."

Francis B. Nyamnjoh, University of Cape Town

Table of Contents

List of figures List of tables List of contributors Acknowledgements 1.Introduction: stratified livability and pandemic effects Ayo Wahlberg, Nancy J. Burke and Lenore Manderson Part I: The power of the state 2.Care in the time of COVID-19: surveillance, creativity, and sociolismo in Cuba Nancy J. Burke 3.Militarising the pandemic: lockdown in South Africa Lenore Manderson and Susan Levine 4.Rights, responsibilities, and revelations: COVID-19 conspiracy theories and the state Elisa J. Sobo and Elzbieta Drazkiewicz Part II: Exclusion and blame 5.The 2020 Los Angeles uprisings: fighting for Black lives in the midst of COVID-19 Hanna Garth 6.The biopolitics of COVID-19 in the UK: racism, nationalism and the afterlife of colonialism  Jennie Gamlin, Sahra Gibbon, and Melania Calestani   7.The shrouds stealers: coronavirus and the viral vagility of prejudice Aditya Bharawaj 8.Unprecedented times? Romanian Roma and discrimination during the COVID-19 pandemic Cristina A. Pop 9.Turkey’s Diyanet and political Islam during the pandemic  Oguz Alyanak 10.Citizen vector: scapegoating within communal boundaries in Senegal during the COVID-19 pandemic Ato Kwamena Onoma   Part III: Unequal burdens 11.Pandemic policy responses and embodied realities among ‘waste-pickers’ in India Surekha Garimella, Shrutika Murthy, Lana Whittaker and Rachel Tolhurst 12.The amplification effect: impacts of COVID-19 on sexual and reproductive health and rights in Indonesia Linda Rae Bennett and Setiyani Marta Dewi 13.Vulnerabilities within and beyond the pandemic: disability in COVID-19 Brazil Claudia Fonseca and Soraya Fleischer 14.‘You are putting my health at risk’: genes, diets and bioethics under COVID-19 in Mexico Abril Saldaña-Tejeda 15.Scarcity and resilience in the slums of Dhaka city, Bangladesh Sabina Faiz Rashid, Selima Kabir, Kim Ozano, Sally Theobald, Bachera Aktar and Aisha Siddika   Part IV: The reach of care 16.Making do: COVID-19 and the improvisation of care in the UK and US Ellen Block and Cecilia Vindrola-Padros 17.Carescapes unsettled: COVID-19 and the reworking of ‘stable illnesses’ in welfare state Denmark Sofie Rosenlund Lau, Marie Kofod Svensson, Natasja Kingod, and Ayo Wahlberg 18.Care within or out of reach: fantasies of care and connectivity in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic Earvin Charles Cabalquinto and Tanja Ahlin 19.Pandemic times in a WhatsApp-ed nation: gender ideologies in India during COVID-19 Haripriya Narasimhan, Mahati Chittem, and Pooja Purang 20.Purity’s dangers: at the interstices of religion and public health Tsipy Ivry and Sarah Segal-Katz   Part V: Lessons for a future 21.Fracturing the pandemic: the logic of separation and infectious disease in Tanzania Rebecca Marsland 22.Living together in precarious times: COVID-19 in the Philippines Gideon Lasco   23. COVID-19 in Italy: a new culture of healthcare for future preparedness Chiara Bodini and Ivo Quaranta Index

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