Pre WAC-2023 Distinguished Invited Online Lecture Series
KISS-DU Organizes Lecture on ‘Affect in Pandemic
Times: People, Viruses, Technologies’

The KISS School of Anthropological Sciences (KSAS), KISS-DU, in partnership with the United Indian Anthropology Forum (UIAF), Departments of Anthropology, Utkal University, University of Delhi and Sambalpur University, organized the fifth Pre WAC-2023 Distinguished Invited Online Lecture Series (PDIOLS#5) on 29th November 2021 on the topic, ‘Affect in Pandemic Times: People, Viruses, Technologies’.

The lecture was delivered by Professor Maruška Svašek from Queen’s University, Belfast, UK. Professor Svašek has done fascinating research on the ethnography of human mobility and agency, transnational connectivity, environmental change, artefacts and images in the era of globalization. Inviting Professor Svašek to the session, Professor Deepak Kumar Behera, Vice-Chancellor, KISS-DU apprised her of the United Indian Anthropological Forum and the ensuing World Anthropological Congress to be held at KISS in 2023. Professor Ashok K. Mohapatra introduced her to the audience.

In her talk, Professor Svašek focused on the lived experiences of six migrant women who lived in a state of confinement in Northern Ireland during the ‘deep lock-down’ period following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Although separated from their families, they worked out new modes of connection and affective bonding with relatives and loved ones in the IT-enabled poly-media virtual space of synchronous and asynchronous entanglements. Painting one another and maintaining photo diaries and exchanging all these through the Internet was a huge effective compensation for the loss of ordinary human relations and sociality, Professor Svašek pointed out.

She talked about the new set of dynamics of distancing and proximity characterizing sociality during the pandemic times. The proximity was, however, made possible through the strategies of continuation, intensification, innovation and distancing. She cited the instance of Ester celebration of a migrant woman with her distant family members in the virtual space of ZOOM as an instance of innovation. Professor Svašek’s lucid presentation of human bonding, aided by a lot of photos, paintings and graphics, was truly enjoyable. The talk was summarized by Professor S. Gregory, Secretary, UIAF. Many distinguished anthropologists from different parts of the country participated in the question-answer session which followed the talk.

The program ended with a formal vote of thanks by Dr. Sushree S. Mohanty, Assistant Professor, KISS-DU.