Michael David Vine

Grant Type

Post PhD Research Grant

Institutional Affiliation

South Florida, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9800

Approve Date

April 28, 2019

Project Title

Vine, Michael (South Florida, U. of) "Pandemic States, Pandemic Subjects: The Everyday Biopolitics of Zika Virus in Urban South Florida"

MICHAEL VINE, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, was awarded a grant in April 2019 to aid research on “Pandemic States, Pandemic Subjects: The Everyday Biopolitics of Zika Virus in Urban South Florida.” This project used ethnographic methods to explore the effect of viral outbreaks such as Zika virus and COVID-19 on everyday municipal politics in South Tampa, especially Tampa and Miami, which are two cities with longstanding and thick social connections to Latin America and the Greater Caribbean. The project found that, despite distinct patterns of transmission, spatiotemporal trajectories, and medical profiles, the two viral outbreaks presented striking similarities in terms of their impact on everyday political discourse and local state formation. Among the most striking of these similarities was that both outbreaks were accompanied with a proliferation of heterodox assessments and conspiratorial beliefs among a large proportion of the urban public. The project focused on the political life of conspiratorial beliefs and traced the emergence, consolidation, and mutation across the two disease outbreaks of a kind of viral populism. Viral populism is a form of political participation that marshals the everyday sites and scenes of municipal politics, such as city council meetings and encounters with street-level bureaucrats, as spaces for the performance of heightened displays of antagonistic affect. The project explored the class, gendered, and racial dimensions of viral populism and asks what it might tell us about the affective dynamics of liberal politics under less dramatic conditions.