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Caring like a State: Politicizing Love, Touch, and Precarious Lives in the Time of COVID-19

D´Aoust, Anne-Marie

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URN: urn:nbn:de:hebis:26-opus-154483

Freie Schlagwörter (Englisch): love , care , touch , COVID-19 , migration
Universität Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Institut: International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture
Fachgebiet: Gießener Graduiertenzentrum Kulturwissenschaften
DDC-Sachgruppe: Sozialwissenschaften, Soziologie
Dokumentart: Aufsatz
Zeitschrift, Serie: On_Culture : the Open Journal for the Study of Culture ; 9
ISBN / ISSN: 2856008-5
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 2020
Publikationsdatum: 01.03.2021
Kurzfassung auf Englisch: This essay builds on the extraordinary circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic to tease out some of the ways in which love has been played out politi-cally in relation to migration. In Canada, as elsewhere in the world, the pandemic suddenly rendered visible the oft-invisible care work traditionally performed by women, and now increasingly so by women of color and asylum seekers. Building on queer theorist Sara Ahmed’s understanding of immigration policies as a form of ‘con-ditional love,’ I investigate various processes of (de)politicization that occurred when love and care became politically mobilized in response to the health crisis. I use the ‘love-body-care’ constellation as working points to tease out some disciplining and transformative possibilities brought about by love. After discussing Lauren Berlant’s and bell hooks’ reflections on love, I then examine how the pandemic unexpectedly made visible, and sometimes challenged, the politics of touch, love, and care between state-sanctioned hierarchized bodies. While so doing, I notably unpack the ‘guardian angel’ metaphor that was mobilized to speak of those doing care work, and especially those working as continuing care assistants for the elderly — overwhelmingly asylum seekers and women of color in Quebec. Running through the discussion lie lingering existential, political questions: who cares (in both the practical and emotional under-standings of the term), and how do we care about each other — with what political consequences?
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