On epidemiological consciousness and COVID-19: Envisioning vulnerability, hazard, and public health policy in Aotearoa New Zealand and the United Kingdom

Nicholas J. Long, Pounamu Jade Aikman, Nayantara Sheoran Appleton, Sharyn Graham Davies, Antje Deckert, Edmond Fehoko, Eleanor Holroyd, Naseem Jivraj, Megan Laws, Nelly Martin-Anatias, Michael Roguski, Nikita Simpson, Rogena Sterling, Susanna Trnka, Laumua Tunufa'i

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


This chapter examines how the COVID-19 pandemic has led to citizen-subjects in Aotearoa New Zealand and the UK developing particular modes of epidemiological consciousness: internalising and vernacularising the categories and logics of public health discourse to become self-regulating epidemiological thinkers, attuned to the ways that their relationships with others and with space might inhibit or facilitate viral transmission. In the process, they have developed distinct new forms of epidemiological sociality and cultivated modes of reasoning that could, in theory, be used to scrutinise policy choices and hold those in power to account. However, when it came to envisioning routes out of lockdown, research participants in both settings were inclined to consider their own nation's approach ‘safe’ and grounded in ‘science’ while viewing measures that had been successfully adopted in the other country as unsafe or impossible to enforce. Here, epidemiological consciousness was not protecting people so much as foreclosing forms of sociality that could support them during challenging times. Anthropological research can thus contribute to discussions about how to live through a pandemic by holding dominant modes of epidemiological consciousness to critical account while providing portraiture of viable alternative forms of pandemic life.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHow to Live Through a Pandemic
EditorsSimone Abram, Helen Lambert, Jude Robinson
Place of PublicationAbingdon UK
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781003359371
ISBN (Print)9781032397801, 9781032547558
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Cite this