The COVID-19 pandemic has been ongoing for over three years now. Rather than trying to ignore its continued presence and impact, this month we're adding books into the lending library that focus on health, viruses, activism, and care.
The first is Crisis and Care: Queer Activist Responses to a Global Pandemic, edited by Adrian Shanker, which explores how the COVID-19 pandemic revealed new ways to approach activism and change. The pandemic resulted in movements large and small both to protect vulnerable communities and to fail them. Through critical engagement with the successes and failures of responses to the pandemic, activists present ways to more effectively push for change and achieve real-world results in efforts to make a more equitable and just world. From the publisher:
"Crisis and Care reveals what is possible when activists mobilize for the radical changes our society needs. In a time of great uncertainty, fear, and isolation, queer activists organized for health equity, prison abolition, racial justice, and more. Nobody who lived through the COVID-19 pandemic will soon forget the challenges, sacrifices, and incredible loss felt during such an uncertain time in history. Crisis and Care addresses not what happened during COVID-19, or why it happened, but rather how queer activists responded in real time. It considers the need to memorialize resiliency as well as loss, hope as well as pain, to remember the strides forward as well as the steps back. Activist contributors Zephyr Williams, Mark Travis Rivera, Jamie Gliksberg, Denise Spivak, Emmett Patterson, Omar Gonzales-Pagan, Kenyon Farrow, and more provide a radical lens through which future activists can consider effective strategies to make change, even or perhaps especially, during periods of crisis."
The second book is Virology: Essays for the Living, the Dead, and the Small Things in Between by Joseph Osmundson. Osmundson is a microbiologist who examines not just health and science, but the social, political, and economic conditions that impact how we approach, react to, plan for, and think about viruses and illness. His approach finds parallels between hard science and queer theory, exploring the fraught history of queerness and viruses, and looks forward to how we can learn from the past to better prepare for and understand the future. From the publisher:
"Invisible in the food we eat, the people we kiss, and inside our own bodies, viruses flourish—with the power to shape not only our health, but our social, political, and economic systems. Drawing on his expertise in microbiology, Joseph Osmundson brings readers under the microscope to understand the structure and mechanics of viruses and to examine how viruses like HIV and COVID-19 have redefined daily life."
"Osmundson’s buoyant prose builds on the work of the activists and thinkers at the forefront of the HIV/AIDS crisis and critical scholars like José Esteban Muñoz to navigate the intricacies of risk reduction, draw parallels between queer theory and hard science, and define what it really means to “go viral.” This dazzling multidisciplinary collection offers novel insights on illness, sex, and collective responsibility. Virology is a critical warning, a necessary reflection, and a call for a better future."