Book cover of "The Virus Touch"

CARGC & C3 Book Talk: Bishnupriya Ghosh, UC Santa Barbara

March 20, 2024 12:15pm-1:30pm
  • Annenberg School for Communication, Room 500
  • 3620 Walnut Street

"The Virus Touch: Theorizing Epidemic Media"

Book cover of "The Virus Touch"
Book cover of The Virus Touch

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About the Book

In The Virus Touch Bishnupriya Ghosh argues that media are central to understanding emergent relations between viruses, humans, and nonhuman life. Writing in the shadow of the HIV/AIDS and COVID-19 global pandemics, Ghosh theorizes “epidemic media” to show how epidemics are mediated in images, numbers, and movements through the processes of reading test results and tracking infection and mortality rates. Scientific, artistic, and activist epidemic media that make multispecies relations sensible and manageable eschew anthropocentric survival strategies and instead recast global public health crises as biological, social, and ecological catastrophes, pushing us toward a multispecies politics of health. Ghosh trains her analytic gaze on these mediations as expressed in the collection and analysis of blood samples as a form of viral media; the geospatialization of data that track viral hosts like wild primates; and the use of multisensory images to trace fluctuations in viral mutations. Studying how epidemic media inscribe, store, and transmit multispecies relations attunes us to the anthropogenic drivers of pathogenicity like deforestation or illegal wildlife trading and the vulnerabilities accruing from diseases that arise from socioeconomic inequities and biopolitical neglect.

Photograph of Bishnupriya Ghosh
Bishnupriya Ghosh, Ph.D.

About the Speaker

Bishnupriya Ghosh publishes in global media cultures, environmental media, and critical health studies. Her early research includes two monographs, When Borne Across: Literary Cosmopolitics in the Contemporary Indian Novel (Rutgers UP, 2004) and Global Icons: Apertures to the Popular (Duke UP, 2011), while her current research is exemplified by the co-edited volume, The Routledge Companion to Media and Risk (Routledge 2020) and a new monograph, The Virus Touch: Theorizing Epidemic Media (Duke UP, 2023).

This event is a part of the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication (CARGC) and the Annenberg Center for Collaborative Communication (Annenberg C3) co-sponsored event series and supported by the Center on Digital Culture and Society (CDCS).

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