Back to

Viral Politics Symposium

Viral Politics Symposium

Event Venue:

Deakin Waurn Ponds 75 Pigdons Road, Waurn Ponds, VIC, 3216, Australia ( Map )

Day 1: Wednesday, 25 August 2021, 7pm – 8pm AEST via Zoom

Day 2: Friday, 27 August 2021, 10am – 3pm AEST, Deakin University Waurn Ponds campus and via Zoom

Viruses are disrupting conventional political sensibilities. The force of these invisible agents has reverberated across scales–interrupting molecular processes within cells, the predictable functioning of organs and bodies, as well as political, economic, and cultural systems. Public health officials have tried to “combat” the novel coronavirus, mobilizing rhetoric about warfare, as they brought everyday life to a standstill. As global health biosecurity programs have failed to achieve a final solution, experiments in living with the virus are underway around the world. Mass mortality events have been shaped by racism, capitalism and colonialism. Newly recognized essential workers are being propelled into dangerous and vulnerable situations.

Fake news and disinformation has gone viral. Scientific knowledge has taken on new political significance. As people protest lockdown restrictions, modes of knowing, being, and living are at stake. A global “anthro pause” took place, as relations among humans, animals, plants, and ecological systems were reconfigured on a planetary scale. Perhaps the figure of Gaia has intruded, interrupting modernist epistemologies and ontologies that separate nature from culture, the human from the non-human. If certain modes of human existence were tolerated by planetary ecologies in the before time, now might be the time to recognize that previous configurations are untenable.

This event will bring together speakers who have participated in three parallel initiatives that emerged in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Our title is inspired by one of these projects, “The Viral Politics of COVID-19: Nature, Home, and Planetary Health,” an edited book collection by Vanessa Lemm and Miguel Vatter. Participants are also drawn from the Coronavirus Multispecies Reading Group, a weekly discussion forum hosted by Eben Kirksey and organized by Rachael Vaughn.


Vanessa Lemm (Deakin University)

Yasmeen Arif (University of Delhi)

Eben Kirksey (Deakin University)

Miguel Vatter (Deakin University)

Catherine Bennett (Deakin University)

David Giles (Deakin University)

Vasan Vasan (CSIRO)

Lyle Fearnley (Singapore University of Technology and Design)

Gary Crameri (former CSIRO Geelong)

Mark Andrejevic (Monash University)

Vicki Kirby (UNSW Sydney)

Gay Hawkins (University of Western Sydney)

Sria Chatterjee ( Critical Media Lab, Basel)

Rachel Vaughn (UCLA)

Astrid Schrader (Exeter)


Looking to partner with Australia's leading social sciences 
and humanities research institute?

If you are interested in partnering or studying with us – we're keen to hear from you.