1st Edition

Understanding the Politics of Pandemic Emergencies in the time of COVID-19 An Introduction to Global Politosomatics

By Mika Aaltola Copyright 2022
    284 Pages
    by Routledge

    284 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book reviews the political significance of COVID-19 in the context of earlier pandemic encounters and scares to understand the ways in which it challenges the existing individual health, domestic order, international health governance actors, and, more fundamentally, the circulation-based modus operandi of the present world order.

    It argues that contagious diseases should be regarded as complex open-ended phenomena with various features and are not reducible merely to biology and epidemiology. They are, as such, fundamentally politosomatic, namely that they disrupt, agitate, and trigger large-scale processes because individual somatic-level anxieties stem from individuals’ sensing immediate danger through the networks of their local and global connectedness. The author further argues that pandemics have somatic effects in political expressions that transform the epidemic into national security dramas which should not, for the sake of efficient health governance, be treated as aspects extraneous to the disease itself. The book highlights that when a serious infectious disease spreads, a 'threat' is very often externalized into a culturally meaningful 'foreign' entity. Pandemics tend to be territorialized, nationalized, ethnicized, and racialized.

    This book will be of key interest to scholars and students of global health and governance, pandemic security, epidemics, history of medicine, geopolitics, international relations, and general readers interested in the COVID-19 pandemic.

    1. Introduction

    2. Pandemic Dramas: Containment Efforts and ’Nearest is Dearest’ Compassions

    3. Understanding Grand Vortexes: The Classical Model for Politics and Plagues

    4. Global Mobility-Based Order: The Disruptions of SARS and COVID-19

    5. The Geopolitics of SARS and COVID-19

    6. Covid-19 as a Catalyzer of Growing Anxiety, Political Distancing and Global Decoupling

    7. Dynamics of an Epidemic of International and of National Origin: Cases of Haiti Cholera and the Mad Cow Disease

    8. Beyond Pandemic Security


    Mika Aaltola is Director of the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, Finland; Full Professor of International Relations and European Studies at Tallinn University, Estonia; and docent of International Relations at the University of Tampere, Finland.

    "Mika Aaltola has made a highly important contribution to the understanding of how pandemics impact geopolitics. He shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has done so in ways similar to previous — and probably future — pandemics."

    Mark N. Katz, Professor, George Mason University Schar School of Policy and Government, USA; Chairperson, Scientific Advisory Council, Finnish Institute of International Affairs.

    "Thinking back to 2012 about the impact of major pandemics on global politics was a visionary act. Revisited in the light of COVID-19, this book vindicates all the research hypotheses put forward by the author ten years ago. Concise and brilliant!"

    Christian Lequesne, Sciences Po, Paris, France.