Should we view the COVID-19 pandemic as an inflection point or as more of the same? Has the newly resurgent pandemic only deepened entrenched socioeconomic divisions or shone a light on them so glaring that structural change ensues? In what ways has the coronavirus sharpened established biomedical and geopolitical borders, even as, qua pandemic, it inevitably crossed them? And to what extent have the devastating effects of this first truly global pandemic been compounded by contemporaneous crises that made 2020 an annus horribilis for so many, although notably not all, of us? What we have all been living through (same storm, different boats) since late December 2019 deserves to be called a syndemic, a term originally introduced by the medical anthropologist Merrill Singer to designate two or more aggregated disease clusters in a given population but now used more loosely to describe any “fractured, stratified convergence of catastrophes.”1 Three...
On Syndemics and Social Change
cynthia j. davis is professor of English at the University of South Carolina, where she specializes in US literature and culture from the Civil War to World War II. Her essays have appeared in such journals as American Literary History, American Literature, and the Arizona Quarterly. Her latest book is Pain and the Aesthetics of U.S. Literary Realism (2021).
Cynthia J. Davis; On Syndemics and Social Change. English Language Notes 1 April 2022; 60 (1): 184–186. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00138282-9560309
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