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Lectures

Life/NonLife: a forum

This Somatosphere forum features essays written in the wake of a debate held at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. The debate was organized around the following motion: “Lacking empirical traction and heuristic power, the distinction between life and nonlife is one that anthropology needs to discard.” We hope …

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Features

Life/NonLife Revived

Earthquakes. Taxidermy. Ghosts. Climate Change. These phenomena, some exceptional and some quotidian, all challenge the stability and salience of ‘life’ as an ethnographic category.  Lacking empirical traction and heuristic power, the distinction between life and nonlife is one that anthropology needs to discard.

This was the motion for a debate that closed the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Association of …

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A forum on the Zika virus

Zika is in the air.

The beginning of 2016 has seen the world thrust into another global infectious disease crisis, fanned by the politics and fear of uncertainty and media speculation. Reports of the Zika virus outbreak emerged in late 2015, and have proliferated in early 2016. Most distressing have been the headlines, and associated images, possibly linking the virus …

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Features

Zika, Hype, and Speculation

When the Zika epidemic became the latest global health emergency, comparisons to the recent Ebola crisis sprang to my mind.

On one hand, Zika is quite distinct from Ebola. Zika has already been identified in more places; Zika is mosquito-borne, not zoonotic; and social anxiety around Zika has to do with pregnancy and birth, rather than death and funerals. On …

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Bleach

My friend Dr. Muñoz makes his own bleach.  He uses salt, water, and electrodes to render sodium hypochlorite.  To do this, he has colonized a small space in a garage-cum-storage unit nestled on the grounds of the Managua health center where he works.  His bleach-making is ad-hoc and off the books.  Dr. Muñoz doesn’t get extra money or time from …

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