Join us for a dialogue between Bishnupriya Ghosh (English and Global Studies) and Elena Aronova (History) about Ghosh’s new book, The Virus Touch: Theorizing Epidemic Media. Refreshments will be served.
In The Virus Touch, Ghosh argues that media are central to understanding emergent relations between viruses, humans, and nonhuman life. Writing in the shadow of the HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 global pandemics, Ghosh theorizes “epidemic media” to show how epidemics are mediated in images, numbers, and movements through the processes of reading test results and tracking infection and mortality rates. Scientific, artistic, and activist epidemic media that make multispecies relations sensible and manageable eschew anthropocentric survival strategies and instead recast global public health crises as biological, social, and ecological catastrophes, pushing us toward a multispecies politics of health. Ghosh trains her analytic gaze on these mediations as expressed in the collection and analysis of blood samples as a form of viral media; the geospatialization of data that track viral hosts like wild primates; and the use of multisensory images to trace fluctuations in viral mutations. Studying how epidemic media inscribe, store, and transmit multispecies relations attunes us to the anthropogenic drivers of pathogenicity like deforestation or illegal wildlife trading and the vulnerabilities of diseases that arise from socioeconomic inequities and biopolitical neglect.
Bishnupriya Ghosh is Professor of English and Global Studies at UC Santa Barbara, author of Global Icons: Apertures to the Popular, and coeditor of The Routledge Companion to Media and Risk.
Sponsored by the IHC’s Harry Girvetz Memorial Endowment