The Pedagogy of the Virus: Solidarity and Mutual Aid in the Post-Epidemic Futures


The article explores the effect of the covid-19 epidemic on politics in Iran. It asks how people's organisation and transformative experiences can counter forces and phenomena such as the current epidemic. The article reflects upon the extant and emergent potentialities of the current situation, imagining trajectories from the presence to the coming life in the post-epidemic future. The article is organised in the following sections: firstly, it provides an overview of the unfolding epidemic crisis in Iran to familiarise readers with the existing conditions and structures, including the effect of geopolitical constraints such as US-led sanctions and domestic models of crisis management. It then looks at how crises and health crises in particular destabilise the framework of interaction between power and people, and how this can be remodelled through the technologies of trust (such as vaccines and medical practice) that become essential to the continuation of political and social life. Within this frame, the article analyses how the epidemic produced and continues to shape forms of social organisation and cultural praxis, which originate from the mobilisation of solidarity and mutual help networks. These include an array of categories that have the potential to set the ground for a new sense of community amidst impeding crisis, counterpoising the high-tech, authoritarian vision of grand solutions to the crisis with a low-tech mobilisation and human-centred vision. Finally, the objective is to inquire into the potentialities of a politics of solidarity and hope and its counter-values of demoralisation, fear and desperation. This is what the article elaborates as the 'pedagogy of the virus', a cognitive and practical journey resulting from the concurrence of crises in health/politics, whereby ordinary people learn to (re)enact organisation and community to change everyday life amidst societal and political disruption.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v14i2p565

Keywords: covid-19; pandemic; solidarity; mutual aid; Iran; Middle East; organisation; pedagogy; ethnography; social theory


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