Miguel M. Algranti
Departamento de Antropología, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Buenos Aires
Although of little prominence within the broader social and political agendas, three dystopic scenarios in which we are now living were being recorded and debated in previous DARE conferences among other academic circles. First, the devastating effects of climate change subsumed in the debate on the Anthropocene. In this new era, human beings would be operating as a geological force with the capacity to transform the planet in irreversible ways and affect the possibilities of survival of different species, including humanity itself. Then, the accelerated circulation of fake news enhanced by artificial intelligence aimed, at least until now, at further promoting consumer society and, even more alarming, at detecting and monitoring the preferences of potential voters to guide their votes. Finally, the emergence of authoritarian leaderships in critical global or regional countries of the world-system, which have become powerhouses of hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, misogynist and homophobic discourses. It is in these scenarios that the COVID-19 emerges. A pandemic that is undoubtedly unprecedented as a nearly global experience, not merely because of the speed of contagion, but fundamentally because of its capability to articulate and enhance the three dystopian scenarios mentioned. Being at the same time, a dystopia that we are living collectively online and, therefore, we are going through with a relatively widespread social awareness of being in a calamity.
This paper will explore how COVID-19 opens a liminal time where the future exists in the present. Rendering our social structures in its true monstrous forms, death went viral dangerously advancing our notions of purity and danger. But viruses are at the same time proof that our DNA is a multi-species bricolage and a pure force of metamorphosis circulating between bodies, the presence of a breath that defines the distance between life and death. Free, the virus belongs to no one, and yet it can change everyone’s life. Because nature’s own thing is change, COVID pushes us to think precisely that space, between life and death.