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Open access

Viral Intimacy and Catholic Nationalist Political Economy

Covid-19 and the Community Response in Rural Ireland

David Whyte

Abstract

Changes in the conduct and regulation of intimacy during the COVID-19 crisis in the Republic of Ireland has uncovered the legacy of Catholic nationalism in Irish capitalism. Many commentators analysed the increased welfarism and community service provision as the suspension of Irish neoliberalism. In fact, the Irish COVID-19 response is shaped by a longer tradition of political and economic approaches that have their genesis in the revolutionary Catholic state following independence from Britain. Based on ethnography of community development practices in a rural Irish region, the article describes how Catholic nationalist influences are present in the collection of institutions involved in the Community Response and its approach to spatial organisation. The governance of the response also sheds light on a lack of intimacy between citizen and state that is not only the product of neoliberal structural adjustments but is uniquely characteristic of the Catholic ethos that influences Irish capitalism.

Open access

Reflections on COVID-19

Marla Frederick, Yunus Doğan Telliel, and Heather Mellquist Lehto

COVID-19, Religious Markets, and the Black Church, Marla Frederick

Can You See the Big Picture? COVID-19 and Telescoping Truth, Yunus Doğan Telliel

Learning from Religious Diasporas in Pandemic Times, Heather Mellquist Lehto

Open access

Art Gallery Education in New Zealand during COVID-19

The Emergence of a Community of Practice

Esther Helen McNaughton

Abstract

This article describes the unprecedented coming together of New Zealand art gallery educators to respond to the challenges of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. This newly formed community of practice met virtually three times at critical points. At each stage, new concerns were discussed and understandings evolved. The gallery educators were able to approach shared issues cooperatively, enabling mutual support to a degree that had hitherto not been possible. By the end of these meetings, gallery educators were reestablishing their regular teaching practice with the integration of many of the innovations of the period. Additionally, the meetings fulfilled a preexisting desire for closer contact and professional support, and thus proved to be the foundation of an ongoing national professional group for New Zealand art gallery educators.

Open access

Museums in the Pandemic

A Survey of Responses on the Current Crisis

Joanna Cobley, David Gaimster, Stephanie So, Ken Gorbey, Ken Arnold, Dominique Poulot, Bruno Brulon Soares, Nuala Morse, Laura Osorio Sunnucks, María de las Mercedes Martínez Milantchí, Alberto Serrano, Erica Lehrer, Shelley Ruth Butler, Nicky Levell, Anthony Shelton, Da (Linda) Kong, and Mingyuan Jiang

Throughout human history, the spread of disease has closed borders, restricted civic movement, and fueled fear of the unknown; yet at the same time, it has helped build cultural resilience. On 11 March 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) classified COVID-19 as a pandemic. The novel zoonotic disease, first reported to the WHO in December 2019, was no longer restricted to Wuhan or to China, as the highly contagious coronavirus had spread to more than 60 countries. The public health message to citizens everywhere was to save lives by staying home; the economic fallout stemming from this sudden rupture of services and the impact on people's well-being was mindboggling. Around the globe museums, galleries, and popular world heritage sites closed (Associated Press 2020). The Smithsonian Magazine reported that all 19 institutes, including the National Zoo and the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), would be closed to the public on 14 March (Daher 2020). On the same day, New Zealand's borders closed, and the tourism industry, so reliant on international visitors, choked. Museums previously deemed safe havens of society and culture became petri dishes to avoid; local museums first removed toys from their cafés and children's spaces, then the museum doors closed and staff worked from home. In some cases, front-of-the-house staff were redeployed to support back-of-the-house staff with cataloguing and digitization projects. You could smell fear everywhere.

Open access

Online Exhibitions during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Sheila K. Hoffman

In the mid-1990s, when many museums were beginning to take their first hesitant steps toward building online personae, the worry still holding many back was that if a collection or experience were available online, in-person visitation would invariably decline (Anderson 1996; Cody 1997; Wallace 1995). In the 25 years since, that fear has largely been dispelled even as our technical ability to digitally capture and disseminate cultural collections has improved exponentially, even to the point that the online experience in some ways exceeds the in-person experience. Indeed, museums have moved far beyond the ability to show a few images of the major works in a collection, adding opportunities that mirror almost all the offerings of the in-person experience. But even this “Mona Lisa” effect has not driven in-person visitation down. Rather the opposite. Anyone who has elbowed through the crowds at many of the world's best-known museums can attest to that. Indeed, having been among this ubiquitous press of people, I could not help but think on such occasions that it would take an act of God to reduce the numbers and improve the quality of viewing.

Open access

Constructing the Not-So-New Normal

Ambiguity and Familiarity in Governmental Regulations of Intimacies during the Pandemic

Dmitry Kurnosov and Anna Varfolomeeva

Abstract

This article examines the early evidence for the emergence of new governmental regulations of intimacies during the COVID-19 pandemic based on the authors’ experience of hospital treatment in Russia. It discusses the increasingly used notion of ‘the new normal’ and its potential implications for citizen–state relations. Approaching these emerging regulations from both legal and anthropological perspectives, the authors propose the alternative concept of ‘the not-so-new normal’, which combines discursive ambiguity with familiar patterns of control. The notion of lawscape is used to systematise the bodily control practices inside and outside a Russian hospital and to place them in a wider context. Applying the concept of rupture, the authors claim that ‘the not-so-new normal’ obfuscates the break with pre–COVID-19 reality to reinforce existing hierarchies and inequalities.

Open access

COVID-19 as method

Managing the ubiquity of waste and waste-collectors in India

Tridibesh Dey

Events like the COVID-19 pandemic can become what Assa Doron and Robin Jeffrey have called ‘binding crises’: ‘events with the clarity and immediacy of a terrifying threat’ (2018: 12), impacting the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless – though unevenly. Binding crises of the past (like the 1842 Great Fire of Hamburg, the 1858 Great Stink in London and the 1896 Bombay plague) have led to ubiquitous reforms in sanitation and waste management practices, most notably landmark innovations in modern sewerage systems. In what follows, I draw on ethnographic research, conducted discontinuously over five years (2015–2019), around municipal solid waste management (MSWM), and the political ecology of informal plastic recycling in the city of Ahmedabad, India. I argue that the current pandemic may constitute such a binding event as freelance waste-collection networks are paralysed by the lockdown and ‘authorised’ modes of waste collection are prioritised, leading to a novel ‘infrastructuring’ of emerging relations between human bodies and wasted things.

Open access

Covidiots and the Clamour of the Virus-as-Question

Some Reflections on Biomedical Culture, Futurity and Finitude

Bryan Lim

Abstract

Drawing on my experience with gay men in London who, despite COVID-19-related public health guidelines, continue to meet up and congregate so as to engage in a myriad of sexual (and non-sexual) practices, this article grapples with how an insistence on pre-pandemic intimacies of bodily interactions during a pandemic might prompt us to reconsider our relationship with biomedicine. While these covidiots’ experiments with mortality in the form of dance parties, orgies and casual hook-ups may not be ethically exemplary, this article argues that they are at the very least ethically interesting because they serve as lures through which our other intimacies with temporality, futurity and finitude may be reconsidered.

Open access

Ethnographic witnessing

Or, hope is the first anthropological emotion

Carole McGranahan

In the early months of the pandemic, much of normal life stopped. This was as true for me in the United States as for people I knew in countries around the world; we were all suddenly on pandemic time (Manley 2020). However, as one after another part of my life shifted, one aspect remained constant: the emails continued. Each week, and sometimes more than once, I received a request to serve as an expert witness in US political asylum cases for Nepali and Tibetan applicants. This is work I've been doing since 2005. It is work that seeks you out based on your knowledge of certain countries, for which one becomes an ‘expert’ when there is trouble in a country you know professionally (Good 2007). And it is work that I always feel unprepared for, as it requires not only testifying to political conditions in an applicant's host country but also being a witness to their often horrific experiences of political persecution.

Open access

Exceptions and being human: Before and in times of COVID-19

Narmala Halstead

As a much proclaimed ‘new normal’ accompanying the global pandemic, the suspension of certain rights to protect other rights returns our attention to notions of exceptions outside the law in terms of sovereign power and those hidden within the law, such as structurally embedded violations. The consent for the emergency rights accorded to the state to act for the greater protection and bio-survival of all occurs alongside certain contestations which also, in dramatic instances, include spaces for new protests against structural and physical violence on the person. The murder of George Floyd and the protests which followed signalled points of both convergence and dissonance in relation to the emergency rights of the state and the overlooking of other ‘less visible’ loss of rights.