The Space Between Us: Biophilosophies of Identities in Pandemic Space
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The query that guides this presentation is about how space intervenes in the presence of zoonotic disease and human physical contagion; how space configures questions of security, space and the sustenance of life; and how space formulates the political. Perusing the notion of social identity in a biopolitical environment, and how identity embeds itself in the search for secure space and distance between bodies, the arguments pose another understanding of politics and governmental technique. Using examples of crowds and political protest during the time of the pandemic, the biophilosophies that emerge in the convergence of social identity in material space speak of a compelling aspect of statecraft in the governance of biologically insecure space. In this kind of governance - statecraft, the social and the political show themselves in an emerging politics of life.
Yasmeen Arif is Professor of Sociology, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Shiv Nadar University, Delhi NCR. Her current writing is about a bio-political critique of identity in politics which follows from her book, Life, Emergent: The Social in the Afterlives of Violence (2016, University of Minnesota Press) which explores a politics of life across multiple global conditions of mass violence. The new book project is tentatively titled Life, Per se: The Government of Identity and explores neo-identities in contemporary democracies, labour-work, and race-caste-faith orientations. A constant parallel genre of research and writing has been a commitment to the geo- politics of knowledge production and equitable epistemologies in the contemporary. Her field experiences have been in Beirut, Lebanon and Delhi, India. A co-edited volume Critical Themes in Indian Sociology ( 2018, Sage Publications)is a collection of over 30 essays. A second forthcoming volume is called Event and Everyday: Empiricisms and Epistemologies (2022, Orient-Blackswan Press) is based on a decade long graduate research methods and theory seminar. Essays and book chapters have been published in several journals (HAU, IJURR, American Anthropologist) and volumes. Overall interest areas include bio-philosophies and life, international law and humanitarianisms, science and technology studies, aesthetics, visual and material cultures, theory and epistemology in social anthropology/sociology. Yasmeen has held positions at the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi, University of Minnesota (Twin Cities); The Graduate Institute, Geneva; CSDS, Delhi and the American University of Beirut; Lebanon. The Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship, among others, have supported her work.
Reading: Arif, Y. (2021): Calling a Pandemic by Its Name. Society and Culture in South Asia 7(1) 97–104