Quarantine: Call for Papers due April 15 2020

“We leak, we are contaminated, and crucially, we would not be ourselves in the absence of these perfusions,” the author Sophie Lewis once told me in an interview. But in theorizing what she calls our “wateriness,” she added, quite crucially, that “boundaries are very valuable, as groups whose boundaries have historically been disrespected know all too well. It’s just as important to grasp that the containers we use to conceptualize ourselves—family, kin, nation, self—aren’t natural or immutable.” A pandemic will highlight the ways we are or are not already bound, and for whom those binds and boundaries are chains and chokeholds.”

Natasha Lennard

Quarantine is the use of space to separate one thing from another for the purpose of preventing infection or interaction. Travellers exposed to diseases, spam or even moon rocks can be quarantined.

Space and Culture issues an urgent call for brief position statements (2500 words or less) on the theme of Quarantine in relation to the current pandemic. A limited number of black and white pictorial articles will also be published.

Deadline April 15 2020.

Submissions via https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/sac

The assumption behind quarantine is that there is a zone of purity that can be isolated from a zone of danger in a black-white manner. This ideal model rarely pertains to lived reality.

Image credit: NASA

The practice of quarantine has always been grounded in contested sites and spatialisations that divide one place from another. The history and heritage of quarantine stations and sites of segregation remain inscribed in the landscape. They are hardly memorialized yet leave enduring traces of incarceration.
Quarantine is a medical tool as much as it is a political one. Writers point out that quarantine lends itself to metaphor, to being a plot device, suggesting scenarios that rely on uncertainty and isolation. “Quarantine, by its very nature, implies mistrust and suspicion — but with a possibility of redemptive release.”

Those quarantined are all equally under suspicion, although they may not all be equally infected. Quarantine is a spatialisation of the probable, of risk. Like the calculated quality of probabilities, it is a technical, administrative space, conceived in the terms of abstract models.

Quarantine has always been as much about perception and the sense of security as it has been about actual safety. Manaugh and Twilley ask: “Is quarantine always politically imposed?” Governments impose quarantine on some in the name of the public, of the multiple. They draw crudely on their sovereign power to realize this order, to compel obedience. Incarceration is never sought after.

-Rob Shields (University of Alberta)