School of Policy Studies

School of Policy Studies
School of Policy Studies

Queen's Contagion Cultures Lecture Series

Tuesday December 1, 2020

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Precarious intimacies in the microbiological city  

Carolyn Prouse, Assistant Professor, Department of Geography & Planning, Queen’s University 

Biosecurity experts warn that we are in a new age of infectious disease: an increasing number of bacteria and viruses are making the jump from animal to human populations and are passing between humans at ever-faster rates. Urbanization is often posited as one of the major drivers of this trend. Drawing on urban political ecology, in this talk I chart three ‘moments’ in which the city and urbanization are implicated in the spread of infectious disease: emergence, transmission, and prevention. I pay particular attention to how surveillance and containment strategies have targeted vulnerable populations in so-called informal settlements in the Global South, such as in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Kathmandu, Nepal. In so doing, I show how the spread of disease is never natural but shaped by uneven racialized capitalist development, producing new precarious intimacies in the socionatural city.