Tag: coronavirus

On the social nature of toilet paper

You would be forgiven for thinking that the first thing bought in a global crisis would be tinned, dried, and frozen foods; clean water; and medicines—things that enable the survival of you and your kin. Yet, when the number of COVID-19 cases in Australia hit 100 on March 10, 2020, it was the toilet paper aisles of supermarkets that were empty. Through what became the subject of memes depicting Australians sheltering from the ensuing pandemic wrapped only in toilet paper, and of men wearing lavish adornments of toilet paper rolls, daily bodily habits had hit center stage. (read more...)

The Temporal Politics of Ethnography, Heritability, and Contagion in Tanzania During Covid-19

Editor’s note: This post is the fourth in our five-part series “COVID-19: Views from the Field.” Click here to read an introduction written by series organizer Rebekah Ciribassi. I have been living in Tanzania since March of 2018, conducting ethnographic fieldwork with Tanzanian families that have a genetically-inherited blood disorder called sickle cell disease. My interest in studying the socio-political life of this particular diagnosis in this particular place started in 2012, when I learned of a Pan-African bioscience movement, sited partly in Tanzania, to prioritize sickle cell disease research and care across the continent. I became curious about what it might mean anthropologically to shift the timescales of global health intervention from the immediacy of more traditionally-prioritized communicable diseases like HIV and malaria, toward the intergenerational transmission of a genetic condition. Almost two years of interviews and observation with families, activists, and healthcare providers had me thinking about the (read more...)

Suspension, Risk, Suspicion: Field dispatches from Pakistan under COVID-19

Editor’s note: This post is the third in our five-part series “COVID-19: Views from the Field.” Click here to read an introduction written by series organizer Rebekah Ciribassi. Since the start of the Coronavirus induced lockdowns in Pakistan in mid-March, I have had to cut short my ethnographic field-work in the country’s Anti-Terrorism Courts, and shelter in place in my family’s home in Lahore indefinitely, as Australia’s borders also closed to temporary visa holders. Yet long before the world fell apart, I had come to realize that as a brown, Muslim woman with a Pakistani passport (who also happened to be studying Pakistan), every stage of the PhD/academic life was doubly arduous. From acquiring a visa to get to Australia where my university is based while dealing with my family’s disapproval; applying for, getting visas and traveling to international conferences, to getting research ethics and fieldwork travel approvals, every little milestone required many times the effort that my peers had to put in. (read more...)

Crisis Redux, Viral Uncertainty, and Militarized Care: Coronavirus in the Aftermath of Bolivia’s Uncertain Coup

Editor’s note: This post is the second in our five-part series “COVID-19: Views from the Field.” Click here to read an introduction written by series organizer Rebekah Ciribassi. The COVID 19 crisis arrived in Bolivia just after carnaval. On February 22nd, colorful costumed confradías dancing to the rhythms of salay, caporales, morenadas, and chacareras blazed through the streets of Oruro, a gritty mining city that hosts Bolivia’s biggest carnaval celebration. The following Tuesday, Martes ch’alla, people around the country gathered with their families to ch’allar their homes, burning ceremonial tableaus and splashing beer on the ground as an offering to bring a year of good luck. Two weeks later to the day the first case of coronavirus in Bolivia was confirmed, initiating a cascade of escalating measures including the closure of international borders, curfews, and eventually a nation-wide quarantine with each household allowed to send one family member out for a few hours to buy food once a week, according to the number of their national ID. (read more...)

The militarization of life under war, “post-conflict,” and the COVID-19 crisis

Like many others in Colombia, Nairys[1] is a campesina for whom the experience of confinement has been one of dramatic disruption. Marked by restricted mobility, which means very difficult access to water and subsistence crops, being locked down also implies the reduced possibility to buy medicine, food, and other basic supplies. As for many other women, stay-at-home ordinances have also meant more care work, as the responsibilities of feeding and tending for her relatives fall heavily on her. Likewise, confinement involves being permanently under the same roof with her partner, which has exposed Nayris to more possibilities of being mistreated and abused by him, particularly as pressures over mere subsistence increase. (read more...)