School of Policy Studies

School of Policy Studies
School of Policy Studies

Queen's Contagion Cultures Lecture Series

Tuesday November 17, 2020

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“A divine infection”: Religious communities and the epidemiology of COVID-19

Shobhana Xavier
Assistant Professor, School of Religion

Eun-Young Lee
Assistant Professor, School of Kinesiology and Health Studies

“An equal opportunity assassin” --this is how COVID-19 is framed by Kimberlé Crenshaw (2020), an influential scholar in critical race and intersectionality, during her recent interview. The subsequent waves of the outbreaks of COVID-19 have indicated the ways in which various marginalized communities have been impacted by unequal access to resources, especially health care, highlights the disposability of particular groups of societies (e.g., those in long term care facilities, those who are incarcerated). These disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on members of our global and local communities amplify underlying inequities. One thread of the COVID-19 pandemic that has not been given sufficient scholarly and public attention is the relationship between religion and COVID-19. Scholarship on religion and public health has indicated that religion is an important “social determinant” of health, particularly infectious diseases such as in historical instances of the spread of the plague or a contemporary crisis of HIV/AIDS. In light of these discussions of the role of religion, religious communities, practices and beliefs in the spread or mitigation of infectious diseases, we ask how has religion implicated the spread or mitigation of COVID-19 and how individuals with varying social identities within religious communities are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?