Be kind: Negotiating ethical proximities in Aotearoa/New Zealand during COVID-19
Associate Professor Susanna Trnka's presentation analyses New Zealanders’ engagements in ethical reasoning in response to COVID-19 public health measures.
While she focuses primarily on the country’s first (and only nation-wide) COVID-19 lockdown (March-May 2020), Susanna also reflects on government, mainstream media, and social media portrayals of more recent lockdowns in Auckland. Specifically, she examines how we can understand a variety of public responses to emergency measures—including breaching regulations, threatening rule-breakers, sealing off neighborhoods, and recasting citizen-returnees as “strangers”—as negotiations of ethical proximities focused on keeping appropriately close that which is thought should be near, and keeping distanced that deemed best held afar.
Susanna Trnka is a social and medical anthropologist with expertise in embodiment, subjectivity, and the politics of health. Her previous research has included examinations of citizen-state relations during states of emergency (in Fiji) and of the politics of respiratory health in relation to global asthma policies (as taken up in New Zealand and central Europe). Her work on COVID-19 has resulted in articles in Cultural Anthropology (forthcoming, Aug 2021); the Journal of the Royal Society of NZ (2021); Anthropology Today (2020); Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale (2020), a co-authored book chapter (2020, M. Ryan ed., COVID-19: Global Pandemic, Societal Responses, Ideological Solutions, Routledge), and several published commentaries/blog entries. She is the author/co-author of four books and editor/co-editor of five edited volumes.