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Virological Witch Hunts:Coronavirus and Social Control under Quarantine in Bergamo, Italy

Authors: Bresciani, Chiara; Hughes, Geoffrey;

Virological Witch Hunts:Coronavirus and Social Control under Quarantine in Bergamo, Italy

Abstract

Compilations of video clips of Italian mayors berating citizens breaking quarantine to walk dogs, jog, or play ping pong have become something of a ‘viral’ sensation both in Italy and globally. The clips are often amusing, featuring politicians accusing their constituents of vanity, incontinence, and other assorted sins. As anthropologists interested in the politics of accusation , these small-scale disputes allow us to think through the sorts of political horizons that the novel coronavirus is bringing into being. As the virus spreads, we seek to track the sorts of accusations that spread with it as they provoke what we call virological witch hunts. Unlike the episodes of public blaming and shaming some political figures have promoted through national media, virological witch hunts are small-scale, bottom-up, intimate, and usually amplified through local social networks. We link them to the phenomenon of the untori in XVI- XVII century Lombardy, another bottom-up surge of accusations against those believed to be spreading disease that authorities had to deal with. Relying on social media, we have been reaching out to quarantined residents of the province of Bergamo, in the Lombardy region who have been publicly shamed for perceived transgressions in the midst of the quarantine. The responses offer insight into how the pandemic has precipitated what Massimo, one of our interlocutors, has termed a “collective, hysterical version of preexisting individual patterns of blaming and shaming”.

Country
Denmark
Related Organizations
Keywords

anthropology of coronavirus, Blame, COVID-19, Social control, CORONAVIRUS, Shame, social epidemiology, witch hunts, Medical anthropology, Italy, Quarantine, untori, Surveillance Culture, Anthropology of morality, Moral anthropology, accusations

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  • citations
    This is an alternative to the "Influence" indicator, which also reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
    0
    popularity
    This indicator reflects the "current" impact/attention (the "hype") of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network.
    Average
    influence
    This indicator reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
    Average
    impulse
    This indicator reflects the initial momentum of an article directly after its publication, based on the underlying citation network.
    Average
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citations
This is an alternative to the "Influence" indicator, which also reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Citations provided by BIP!
popularity
This indicator reflects the "current" impact/attention (the "hype") of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Popularity provided by BIP!
influence
This indicator reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Influence provided by BIP!
impulse
This indicator reflects the initial momentum of an article directly after its publication, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Impulse provided by BIP!
0
Average
Average
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