Mapping the Pandemic

There Must Be Some Way Out of Here



Published on line by Compass  Wednesday June 24 2020

This essay  looks at a  range of public, personal and governmental responses to the pandemic for what it tells us about the kind of society and culture we live in. Drawing on insights from anthropology and psychoanalysis a model of risk perception is outlined   and applied to understanding the forms of social solidarity which have been  invoked by the government’s confused and often contradictory  public health messaging.

The essay argues   for an exit strategy from the present  moral panic aimed at ‘high risk’  groups  towards a moral economy of social recovery based on the multitude not the tribe, in which public health, for the many and not the few,  is recognised as the true wealth of the nation. The piece concludes by  considering  how far  the scope of mindfulness  could be extended to give the Left a handle on the present  conjuncture.


A chronicle  of many deaths foretold- Going Viral: diary of a communicable disease – Danger:Pandemonology at Work!  The making of a bio-political crisis – The  emotional  geography of risk- Imagining the body politic in a state of emergency – The imperatives of solidarity: from moral panic to moral economy- There goes the cohort: Covid:19 replays the Generation Game – Hope after Woke:  on critical  mindfulness -’I Can’t Breathe’ : Mapping Politics’  Other Scene – Voice, Agency and the art of listening.

This essay is a companion piece to ‘Political Mindfulness: Fresh Perspectives on a Multiple Crisis’  edited by Phil Cohen with contributions from Ruth Lister, Angela McRobbie, Dick Pountain, Michael Rustin  and Valerie Walkerdine. This is available to read or download on line NOW from


Going Viral: Cartographies of panic and precaution in an age of precarity

This article is due to appear in LivingMaps Review 8 in April 2020 . It examines the way in which  conventional cartography is  used in mapping pandemics and the challenge this poses  to those who want to develop alternative strategies which empower the people and not the State.