Viral Loads – Anthropologies of urgency in the time of COVID-19
This series charts diverse anthropological engagements with the changing dynamics of health and wellbeing in local and global contexts. It includes ethnographic and theoretical works that explore the different ways in which inequalities pervade our bodies. The series offers novel contributions often neglected by classical and contemporary publications that draw on public, applied, activist, cross-disciplinary and engaged anthropological methods, as well as in-depth writings from the field. It specifically seeks to showcase new and emerging health issues that are the products of unequal global development.
We contributed the following two chapters:
Pandemic policy responses and embodied realities among ‘waste-pickers’ in India
Surekha Garimella, Shrutika Murthy, Lana Whittaker and Rachel Tolhurst
Accounts of hardship among waste-picking communities and sanitation workers have appeared intermittently in the print and social media since March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in India. These accounts brought to public consciousness the lack of personal protective equipment (mainly gloves and masks) among sanitation workers, and the risks they faced in relation to exposure to the virus, in the context of increased medical waste, including masks, that were being seen in public spaces and landfill areas.
Scarcity and resilience in the slums of Dhaka city, Bangladesh
Sabina Faiz Rashid, Selima Kabir, Kim Ozano, Sally Theobald, Bachera Aktar and Aisha Siddika
Bangladesh reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on 8 March 2020; thereafter infection spread significantly. However, with inadequate testing, the statistics fail to capture the extent of coronavirus infections and deaths. Public health restrictions, such as the national lockdown – loosely referred to as a ‘general holiday’ deliberately to avoid mentioning coronavirus – meant that many poor people returned to their villages from cities, thus spreading the virus widely. Those who remained in Dhaka and other cities, where the cost of living was already very high, experienced catastrophic economic consequences. Moreover, despite government and private sector responses, the pandemic overburdened the country’s fragile and under-resourced health system
Manderson, L., Burke, N.J. and Wahlberg, A. (eds). 2021. Viral Loads: Anthropologies of urgency in the time of COVID-19. London: UCL Press. https://doi.org/10.14324/ 111.9781800080232