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COVID is no isolated incident

(02/08/21 5:00am)

Although the sociopolitical effects of COVID-19 have become increasingly clear, the pandemic’s political and economic causes have largely been ignored. Evolutionary biologist Rob Wallace explains that what’s really striking about the recent outbreaks, like COVID-19, is the “expedient refusal to grasp that each new Covid-19 is no isolated incident.” This pandemic is “closely linked to food production and the profitability of multinational corporations.” He explains how capital-led agriculture has created the need for large swaths of open land, which results in deforestation and the destruction of natural barriers against pathogens. This is not the first time exploitation of the environment has led to world-wide crises, nor the first time eco-fascism has been the response. As the marginalized continue to face the brunt, while the rich can hide away in the Hamptons and receive the first doses of the vaccine, it’s increasingly clear that humans are not the virus, capitalism is.

Voting will not save us

(10/26/20 4:00am)

Cruel optimism. It’s a concept theorized by University of Chicago Professor Lauren Berlant about how our attachment to objects or dreams can be the very obstacle to our ultimate goals, consuming our optimism. It’s heartbreak and betrayal from the very things we invest our energy and hope into. It’s repeated disappointment that saps away your ability to aspire. It’s the disaffection of marginalized voters, not because of “ignorance” or “laziness,” but because of an intimate knowledge that electoral politics has never been the source of survival or liberation. It’s the cruelty of cultivating that hope anyways.

Beyond carceral culture: confronting violence with care

(08/28/20 4:20am)

As quarantine has pushed most Duke students online, the alienating nature of our computer screens has made it easier than ever to forget our words’ impact on other people. With the growing mainstream awareness of anti-Blackness in the US, a series of racist incidents were exposed on Duke Memes, part of a longer history of racism at Duke. In tandem with these incidents was the creation and proliferation of anonymous confessions pages (and particularly from a Foucauldian standpoint, the use of the word “confession” in employing carceral logic is really interesting, though not the focus of this column). This search for anonymity in order to avoid consequences, but also to hold others to account, ironically, can create the very environment that makes it impossible for accountability to occur. So what can real accountability look like?