April 12, 2021

Figure 1: Photovoice photo by Zimbabwean co-researcher in central Harare, Zimbabwe during Covid-19/Sars-Cov-2 in April 2021.

I am in the final marathon lap on my almost four year project, BORDERS: Life on the Brink, which has involved ongoing field-work in the borderlands of Southern Africa and US-Mexico. I have been continuously learning Scrivener and experimenting with how to best utilize this package, particularly in relation to exploring Latex (which reminds me of using Bash when I was a kid) and organizing the many GB’s of data I have that NVivo 12 just can’t seem to handle without constant freezing. Side note, I am also quite curious about using SSRN ongoing and democratizing research when not distracted for a few mins by Kottke and this.

I will now be onto new opportunities in the later year, perhaps turning my BORDERS project into a book/papers/visual representations. I may have the opportunity to do this in Johannesburg, an opportunity to return to Berkeley or a completely new opportunity in Australia, as well as Columbia reopening in autumn which I anticipate to be in residence for periods. There are always the unknown and unexpected life course transitions and changes. And much has changed as a result of Covid-19, not only in the world, but with myself/others and much remains in flux/unpredictable/unknown. I have found that empathy, sensitivity and remaining grounded with self and others to be iteratively critical and that the contours of my understanding almost always remains limited and privileged.

In looking to the future while staying grounded in the present however I will be starting research on a new project at Columbia entitled, Halsa, where I am developing a health education program targeting health self-efficacy in resource scarce populations. Right now I am putting together the research proposal, developing visual figures and preparing grant proposals for the next couple years. Lastly, since I’ve received the J&J Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine (not without serious adverse reactions), I am excited to return to the conference season. I will be attending with precautions the 2021 American Anthropological Associated conference in Baltimore, MD and the 2021 American Public Health Association conference in Denver, CO, among several other virtual conferences like the African Studies Association 64th Annual Meeting.

March 25, 2021

Visualizing Covid-19 Across Global Borders: A Photovoice Experiment

I have been on a blog hiatus since my undergraduate years. But I want to start writing and reflecting more informally on my research as it progresses and to reflect personally as well. I have been keeping quite busy recently with everything going on in the world and this includes like many a full schedule of Zooms/WebEx’s etc, some of which my son Leif is able to join. This was a talk by a colleague (it was really good!) at Universidad de los Andes in Bogota, Colombia entitled Writing Migration, Displacement and Affective Landscapes. We look quite serious!

Now, I want to write a about a current project of critical concern outside my primary work. I am producing a collaborative working paper and visual project entitled, A Global Pandemic Across Borders: Visualizing Crises, Uncertainty and Complexity in the United States, Brasil and Zimbabwe for a special edition of the Journal of Visual Ethnography. This essay explores comparative lived visual experiences of Covid-19 using the Photovoice method across the geopolitical borders of Brasil, Zimbabwe and the United States during 2021.

Figure 1: Photovoice photo by Brasilian co-researcher in São Paulo, Brasil during Covid-19/Sars-Cov-2 in March 2021.

In Brasil as in the United States and Zimbabwe, a political, social, economic and cultural crises is unfolding and worsening where many are increasingly pushed further into the invisible margins of inequality. This crises is underscored by the second highest rate of recorded global deaths in Brasil after the United States according to Corona Virus Resource Center Dashboard at Johns Hopkins University. Much of this crises in the US, Zimbabwe and Brasil can be attributed to resource scarcities/disparities, decentralized political dis/organization, ethno-racial apartheid, corruptive political and multinational actors and lack of political will that is often ideologically driven, among other similarly situated factors.

This project takes place approximately one year after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared (where they made a really cool visual timeline) Covid-19/Sars-Cov-2 a Global Pandemic in March 2020. It also takes place in a moment when many Global South and European countries including France, Italy and Germany remain in crises. As of March 18, 2021 declaring fresh lock downs (or in the case of Germany on March 24, quickly retracting planned lock downs) on civil society. As the co-researchers provide additional Photovoice material, I will be discussing how to best present this context. I have also been thinking about what the pandemic is like in Southern Africa (particularly Zimbabwe) and how I can further visualize it and bring attention to what is happening, perhaps using a tool like ArcGIS and/or rawgraphs.

Figure 2: Photovoice photo by Brasilian co-researcher in São Paulo, Brasil during Covid-19/Sars-Cov-2 in March 2021.
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