Category: General


Clara del Junco and Mathilde Gerbelli-Gauthier In this post, we’re sharing some excerpts from Burnout: a zine about academia, travel, and climate change that we put together over the course of the past months, in the time freed up by the hiatus in travel. The excerpts we’ve chosen for Platypus include 1)  Our C*****n F*******t Calculator, along with our reflections on the limited utility of any carbon footprint tool; 2) Part of an essay by Riley Linebaugh, putting academic air travel into the context of global inequalities perpetuated by academic institutions; 3) A comic by Hannah Eisler Burnett that documents her transatlantic trip on a cargo ship. (read more...)

Indian Food Delivery Networks During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Over the past decade, the concept of the gig economy has gained momentum in academic discourse. Often linked to temporary employment created by multinational technological corporations through digital platforms, the gig economy has transformed conventional discourses of labor and economy. It brought to the fore the increased precarity in employment, transformed modes of mobilization, fueled workers’ unionizing efforts, and produced new vocabularies (Vallas and Schor 2020; Khreiche 2018). In India’s dynamic economic landscape, these changes are particularly visible. One can argue that the use of digital technologies has reached a new peak in the ongoing global pandemic–as we have observed the changes in techno-bio-political regimes associated with COVID-19-tracking and increased reliance on mobile applications (Battin 2020; Segata 2020). In this light, focusing on India in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic becomes especially useful considering the narratives of hegemony and precarity often associated with gig labor within this geographical context, (read more...)

Living in a Time When “Death Feels Closer”

“I know I’m young, and dying isn’t something I’m ‘supposed’ to think about yet, but how can I not? Death feels like it is everywhere,” earnestly intoned Autumn, a twenty-five-year-old woman I met in late 2020. Autumn was a recent college graduate whose grandfather and roommate had both died during the vicious summer surge of Covid-19 in Los Angeles. The deep sense of loss she felt—not only from their deaths but also from the lack of national acknowledgment—had led her to seek out others whose lives had been touched by death. (read more...)

Covid-19, Fatness, and Risk: Medico-Media Discourses and Stigma

Contemporary English speaking media and popular medical discourses on Covid-19 have been notable in their stigmatization of fatness by implicitly and explicitly arguing that susceptibility to Covid-19 is causally increased by fatness qua fatness. This is accomplished by the assertion that a causality exists between BMI, a problematic gage on its own, and comorbidities like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and asthma. Headlines like “HEAVY BURDEN: The truth about obesity and coronavirus – from ‘crushed lungs’ to organ failure as bodies put under ‘severe strain'” (Pocklington 2020), and “Coronavirus: Obese people at greater risk of death and may stay infectious for longer” (Urwin 2020), are indicative of a media landscape that relies on ambiguous and ill-communicated science to produce clickbaity headlines that are both harmful and misleading. (read more...)

2021 at Platypus

The first weeks of 2021 brought no relief, even though so many hoped otherwise. Instead, the first twelve days clearly demonstrated that exclusion, inequity, violence, and multiply intersecting systems of oppression didn’t magically disappear into the thin air as the clock struck midnight on January 1. Neither in the US nor in other parts of the world. (read more...)

Connection, Inc.: Fast Times for Online Dating in the Age of Quarantine

Have you noticed an uptick in move-ins or engagements in your social circles lately? How about divorces? While everyone seemingly dreads the loneliness of quarantine, statistical and anecdotal evidence suggest both move-ins and divorces are on the rise as we collectively strain under the burden of separation, immobility, and social and political upheaval. Unable to go to work, take a trip, or hug an acquaintance, we’re all unwitting participants in a global experiment in the psychological effects of social deprivation. (read more...)

Mobilizing Cemeteries, Representing Ancestors: The Infrastructure of Protest and the Anti-Petroleum Complex Movement in Pengerang, Malaysia

In 2011, the prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, and the CEO of the national oil company Petronas, Shamsul Azhar Abbas, announced the “Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex” (PIPC) project: a billion-dollar, state-led, mega refinery and petrochemical complex. The PIPC project promised to transform Pengerang, a small fishing village, into a world-class oil and gas hub that would fuel Malaysia’s economic growth for decades to come. It is the biggest of its kind in Southeast Asia and has negotiated a joint venture agreement with Saudi Arabia’s national oil giant Saudi Aramco as of 2017, guaranteeing a supply of crude oil to the PIPC for 20 years to produce petroleum and petrochemical products for growing Asian markets. Beneath the official “success story,” promoted by the Najib government and Petronas of how this “Rotterdam Port of the East”[1] would help Malaysia overtake Singapore as the leading oil and gas trading center of the Asia-Pacific region[2], the PIPC project has spawned a myriad of controversies and local resistances. (read more...)

The Silence before the Silent Spring: Narratives of Modernity and the Silences around the Toxicity of Pesticide Use

Pesticide-use and the control of pest populations with synthetic chemicals are a subset of the history of the “modernization” of agricultural practices. This narrative positions pesticides as an antidote to the food supply problem of the growing world population, but it remains eerily silent on the assault on the entire ecosystem that the continuous use of chemicals entails. These moments of silence in history act as heuristic devices that crystallize aspects of historical production that best expose when and where power gets into the story (Trouillot and Carby, 2015, p.15). The dominant narratives and silences around the question of pesticide exposure point towards the locus of power in the story of the development of modern agriculture. (read more...)