Section 6: Caregiving

Thinking with Care during COVID-19

by Dana Vigue

Keywords: theory, feminism, representation, ethics

As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to impact communities across the globe, social scientists have initiated critical work aimed at understanding and intervening upon the availability and accessibility of high quality, ethical care for those impacted by both COVID-19 and its social and economic sequelae. Care emerges in a multiplicity of forms – including clinical medical care, caregiving between family members and friends, mutual aid and advocacy projects, state-sponsored care, and other relations of support and solidarity that allow for continued survival and the preservation of human dignity. There are also instances where communities engaged in caregiving relations struggle to persist in the face of violent structural inequalities and hegemonic political priorities that devalue human life and relationality in the name of capitalist and imperialist interests.

The following annotated bibliography provides a selection of methodological and ethical considerations for an engaged anthropology concerned with issues caregiving. This reading list is inspired by Maria Puig de la Bellacasa’s article, ‘Nothing Comes Without Its World’: Thinking with Care, in which she calls for “a style of connected thinking and writing that troubles the predictable academic isolation of consecrated authors by gathering and explicitly valorizing the collective webs one thinks with, rather than using the thinking of others as a mere ‘background’ against which to foreground one’s own” (2012:202). Drawing from a feminist anthropological  intellectual genealogy, the following works consider issues of power and representation in scholarly texts, academic collaboration and co-authorship, reciprocity and solidarity with research participants, and multisited, multimedia, and multispecies ethnography. In addition are selections of prose, a data map, a zine, and other resources located outside of academia that demonstrate radical caregiving in practice. 

Taken together, these works represent a constellation of considerations for thinking carefully and caring for our epistemological practices as we work to understand and contribute to community initiatives during COVID-19. As Puig de la Bellacasa describes: “thinking-with belongs to, and creates, community by inscribing thought and knowledge in worlds one cares about in order to make a difference – a diffraction” (205) or, perhaps, to aid us in imagining what Elizabeth Povenelli calls an otherwise.

Interview Transcript


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Howley, Trudi. (2020) “Learn Somatic Regulation: Basic Skills to Help Front Line Workers During Times of Crisis.” Accessed November 20, 2020.

Keller, E. F. (1995). Reflections on Gender and Science. Yale University Press.

Lorraine F. Mayer. (2007). A Return to Reciprocity. Hypatia, 22(3), 22-42. 

Marcus, George. 1995. “Ethnography in/out of the World System: The Emergence of Multi-Sited Ethnography.” Annual Review of Anthropology 24: 99.

“Mutual Aid Hub.” Town Hall Project, 2020. Accessed November 20, 2020.

Narayan, Kirin. 1993. “How Native Is a “Native” Anthropologist?” American Anthropologist 95(3): 671-686.

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Pandolfo, Stefania. 2008. “The Knot of the Soul: Postcolonial Conundrums, Madness, and the Imagination.” In Good, Mary-Jo DelVecchio, Sandra Teresa Hyde, Sarah Pinto, and Byron J. Good, eds. 2008. Postcolonial Disorders. Pp. 329-358. University of California Press. 

Simpson, A. (2014). Mohawk Interruptus: Political Life Across the Borders of Settler States. Durham; London: Duke University Press.

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 1999. Decolonizing methodologies: Research and Indigenous peoples. Zed books.

Tallbear, Kim. “Standing with and Speaking as Faith: A Feminist-Indigenous Approach to Inquiry.”

Tsing, A. (2015). The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press.

Vigue, Dana. “Future Physicians During Physical Distancing— Medical Students’ Roles During COVID-19.” The Harvard Medical Student Review. 1 May, 2020.

Wacquant, L. (2015). “For a Sociology of Flesh and Blood.” Qual Sociol 38, 1–11. 

“#COVIDDula: What Does a COVID-19 Doula Do?” ONE Archives Foundation, 2020. Accessed November 20, 2020.