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Drawing of a cargo ship viewed from behind. The drawing and text are black against a teal background. Ship is called "BURNOUT." Below the ship, handwritten text reads "a zine about academia, travel, & climate change."

Burnout

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...)

Screenshot of tweet from the All India Gig Wrokers Union about a news reel video regarding the Swiggy delivery workers protest, accompanied by screengrab of a delivery worker on a motorbike wearing an Orange T-Shirt with the Swiggy company's logo.

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...)

A photograph that shows a laptop and an altar on a counter. The laptop screen shows an image of burning candles. The altar includes a printed photo of the author who is a white woman with blue hair and in a pink dress standing in front of a brick wall. It also includes three crystals and a dried plant.

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...)

An image of coronavirus with a word cloud and a physician scale. The word cloud includes the following words: Chronic Inflammation, Comorbidities, Obesity, Independent Risk, Immune System, COVID19, Vulnerability

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...)

La foto muestra a los manifestantes en la calle que están a unos metros del edificio del Congreso de Guatemala. El edificio está en llamas y una columna de humo se eleva hacia el cielo.

The Spectrum of Research and Practice in Guatemalan Science Studies

On November 21, 2020, protestors flooded the historic and political center of Guatemala City over the congressional approval of a  budget bill of nearly twelve billion dollars (or ninety-nine billion Quetzales). The proposed budget not only significantly decreased aid to dire and already underfunded public health initiatives but allocated money to ministries known for robbing and vacating government funds. While protestors gathered in the capital’s Parque Central, youth on the frontlines cathartically set fire to the Congressional building only several blocks away and confronted the National Civilian Police (PNC) in order to limit their advancement onto the much larger, peaceful crowd. Guatemala’s recently elected president and former director of the Guatemalan penitentiary system, Alejandro Giammattei, and his administration stood by as the PNC threw tear-gas, harassed, and arrested protestors in sight on charges of illegal protest and public disorder. (read more...)

2021 in red numbers

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...)

Scene of online dater from Spike Jonez' 2015 film Her

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...)

A landscape scene of cemetary on a small hill with a dozen or more headstones beneath a cloudy blue sky.

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...)