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 among anthropologists, philosophers, social theorists and STS scholars, the book argues that global fascination with the ‘next pandemic’ stems 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-animal relations, as the ontological pivot of humanity. 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 framework presented challenges us to think how mythic, cosmological and political aspects of human extinction 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 apocalyptic.
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