Online Lecture on Pandemic Storytelling: Christoph Singer and Birgit Neumann
Christoph Singer (University of Innsbruck): No Sense of an Ending: Narrating Pandemic Temporalities
The pandemic mode of living is one of animated suspension, of constant delays and often existential waiting. Whole societies are waiting for the end of lockdowns and of quarantines. People wait for test-results to be sent, for vaccines to be administered and for economic subsidies to be paid out. And they wait to finally meet again their family-members and friends.
For the fortunate, pandemic waiting entails mostly a suspension of pre-pandemic routines and rituals. For the less fortunate, this unpredictable situation and its economic, psychological and physical impact can prove to be an existential threat. Craig Jeffrey suggests the term ‘chronic waiting’ for enduring such unsettling temporalities. Jeffrey explains: “when people are catapulted out of their everyday lives […] the present can come to weigh on the minds of the individual subject as a type of ‘curse’ or ‘burden.’ (Jeffrey 2008: 955)
By discussing a German public service announcement – called #besondere Helden – a PSA that urges people to stay at home, this paper will shed light on three aspects concerning pandemic waiting: firstly, the relationship of waiting to power; secondly, the paradoxical notion of waiting in largely neo-liberal societies; and thirdly, and most importantly, the limits of narrating such a state of chronic waiting and suspension.
Jeffrey, Craig (2008). “Waiting.” Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 26: 954-58.
Birgit Neumann (Heinrich-Heine-University Dusseldorf): Title to be Announced
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