Against quarantine

Angela Mitropoulos’ article “Against Quarantine” is an important intervention in the debate around the COVID-19 crisis, particularly as it provokes many positions currently upheld and contemplated, regarding concepts such as vulnerability, solidarity, precaution, etc. Now, as if proof were in any way required, Trump’s television address of March 12 made it patently clear how “quarantine rationalizes xenophobia and calls for ethnonationalist separation”, and how “the resort to quarantines draws on the biological-racial understanding of nations as discrete organic entities and prevents or displaces a social understanding of health and disease”.


Christmas Island Immigration Reception and Processing Centre, Australia (2008)

At the moment it seems of the utmost importance to be caring AND anti-nationalist, to take the epidemic seriously AND fight all the separatist undertones of the lockdown. The literature on the politics of quarantine (and its history) is vast and often instructive (just have a look at Neal Arthur Dickerson, Civil Rights: HIV Testing, Contact Tracing & Quarantine [1993] or Alison Bashford, Quarantine: Local and Global Histories [2016]), and might help to support the very “social understanding of health and disease” Mitropoulos is advocating. TH

March 15th, 2020 — Rosa Mercedes / 02