COVID-19 Cultural Anthropology Faculty Thought Pieces

Wednesday, April 8, 2020
Cultural Anthropology Faculty

Various members of Duke's Department of Cultural Anthropology reflect on the current COVID-19 situation and provide some insights and opinions.

Anne AllisonLife as Otherwise

In the compound disaster of 3/11 in northeastern Japan—earthquake, tsunami, nuclear meltdown—time literally stopped for 16,000 Japanese. Keep reading

Anne Allison
Professor Cultural Anthropology


Christine FolchCOVID-19 and Climate Change

Many have remarked on the striking parallels between COVID-19 and anthropogenic climate change, crises that: spill across national borders; require coordinated interventions between scientists, civil society, the private sector, government, and individuals; Keep reading

Christine Folch
Assistant Professor Cultural Anthropology


Charles ThompsonCOVID-19 and the Futility of Border Walls

Pandemics are problems of borders. For millennia, human beings created borders to separate insiders from outsiders, locals from strangers, self from other, good from evil, and clean from dirty. Keep reading

Charles Thompson
Professor of the Practice, Cultural Anthropology


Diane NelsonAnthropology in the Pandemic

In 1937 the French Jewish anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss fled the Nazis but was denied entry into the United States. He ended up doing fieldwork in the Brazilian Amazon with the Nambikwara, reputed to be cannibals. Keep reading 

Diane M Nelson
Professor of Cultural Anthropology


Orin StarnClass Struggle and COVID-19

Anthropologists have spent much of their energy over the past few decades studying social inequality in its many forms. Keep reading

Orin Starn
Professor of Cultural Anthropology



Robin KirkPandemics and Human Rights

Human rights are central to the emergence of and responses to pandemics. Keep reading

Robin Kirk
Senior Lecturer in Cultural Anthropology and Co-Director, Duke Human Rights Center


Harris SolomonLife, Death, and Breath

COVID-19 is contagious and deadly; we know this. What we have not had the time to grapple with, yet, is that it is turning people into patients, and patients on ventilators specifically. Keep reading 

Harris Solomon
Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Global Health


Katya WesolowskiTeaching in the Time of Coronavirus

On February 3, 2020, I walked into my Medical Anthropology class wearing a plague doctor mask to kick off that week’s lecture on epidemics and social transformation. Keep reading

Katya Wesolowski
Lecturing Fellow of Cultural Anthropology


Anne-Maria MakhuluThe Moral Economy of COVID-19

The initial COVID-19 outbreak, first identified in southern China in December 2019, subsequently spread throughout Asia then westward into Iran and Europe, across the Atlantic to the US, and more recently southward into Latin America and the sub-Saharan region to become a full-blown pandemic. Keep reading

Anne-Maria Makhulu
Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology