Human Extinction and the Pandemic Imaginary  book cover
1st Edition

Human Extinction and the Pandemic Imaginary

ISBN 9780367338145
Published September 24, 2019 by Routledge
190 Pages

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Book Description

This book develops an examination and critique of human extinction as a result of the ‘next pandemic’ and turns attention towards the role of pandemic catastrophe in the renegotiation of what it means to be human. Nested in debates in anthropology, philosophy, social theory and global health, the book argues that fear of and fascination with the ‘next pandemic’ stem not so much from an anticipation of a biological extinction of the human species, as from an expectation of the loss of mastery over human/non-humanl relations. Christos Lynteris employs the notion of the ‘pandemic imaginary’ in order to understand the way in which pandemic-borne human extinction refashions our understanding of humanity and its place in the world. The book challenges us to think how cosmological, aesthetic, ontological and political aspects of pandemic catastrophe are intertwined. The chapters examine the vital entanglement of epidemiological studies, popular culture, modes of scientific visualisation, and pandemic preparedness campaigns. This volume will be relevant for scholars and advanced students of anthropology as well as global health, and for many others interested in catastrophe, the ‘end of the world’ and the (post)apocalyptic.

Table of Contents

Introduction: the end of mastery

1.The end of the world as We Do Not Know It

2. Zoonotic transformations

3. Anthropogenesis reversed

4. The epidemiologist as culture hero

5. The post-pandemic condition

Conclusion: catastrophism beyond closure


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Christos Lynteris is Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews, UK. His books for Routledge include Plague and the City (2018) and The Anthropology of Epidemics (2019).


"Lynteris’   book   shows   clear   connections   between   available   narratives   to   experience   biological   emergencies   and   the   measures   at   hand  to  handle  a  pandemic.  By  showing  the  wide  span  of  the  pandemic  imaginary,  and  the  way  it  is  adopted  and  used  by  many  different  actors  in  western  society,  the  book  opens  the  door  to  continue  exploring  the  significance  of  the apparently superfluous and its impact on our experienced reality. But ultimately, the book is at its most inspiring in its depiction of humanity’s struggle  to  reinvent  itself  in  relation  to  our  environment. This is a struggle that we witness not   only   during   pandemic   times,   but   also   more  generally,  as  we  face  the  environmental  challenges resulting from the Anthropocene and its  extractive  relation  to  earth  and  nonhuman  animals." --Jose A. Cañada, Postdoctoral Researcher Faculty of Social Sciences University of Helsinki