Avian flu, Sras, Covid-19… The anthropologist Frédéric Keck, author of “The Sentinels of pandemics. Virus hunters and birdwatchers on China's borders”, examines how our societies react to pandemics. Rather than giving in to fear, he invites us to rethink globalization and our relationship to nature.
“ The cyclical nature of pandemics […] led experts to believe that a new pandemic was imminent and that it would kill millions of people. The question, according to global authorities, is not when and where the pandemic will begin, but whether we are prepared for its catastrophic consequences. The pandemic disrupts social life not only because it kills individuals in series but also because the contagion leads to panic and mistrust. So begins the new book by anthropologist Frédéric Keck, The Sentinels of Pandemics. Virus hunters and bird watchers on China's borders, a premonitory text, written between 2014 and 2016, which will be published at the end of confinement. In the end, it was not avian flu that presented itself to us, but the Covid-19 coronavirus, a SARS-like pathogen transmitted by a bat.
Crossing barriers between animal species, crossing borders between States, the virus knows no limits, having gone, in just a few weeks, from the microscopic scale to the planetary scale. To the point of seizing the cogs of our world, first shaken then brought to a standstill, dazed, by this global and globalized crisis, health, economic, political, human. Author of the aptly named Un monde flupé (2010), an ethnographic survey of avian flu conducted between 2007 and 2009 in Hong Kong, Frédéric Keck, who directs the Laboratory of Social Anthropology (founded in 1960 by Claude Lévi-Strauss), reveals the stakes of this recent pandemic, which already has all of a total social fact. If this was planned, the United States having been preparing for it since the end of the Cold War, as the researcher explains, it had on our lives and the functioning of our societies the effect of an extraordinary explosion. and a brutal leap into the unknown. As if we were facing a new world.
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