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Filosofia Theoretica

Volume 10, Issue 1, January/April 2021

Dunfu Zhang, Richard Atimniraye NyeladeOrcid-ID
Pages 55-70

The Racial and Olfactory Origin of Social Distancing

With the rise of the coronavirus crisis, "social distancing," has emerged as a new buzzword. Politicians, journalists, commentators, news readers, senior executives, and experts use this term blindly. However, scrutinizing the word reveals a terminological mismatch between "physical distancing" and "social distancing." While revisiting the history of physical distancing and social distancing, this article attempts to show how the term "social distancing" moved through time and winded up floating in the atmosphere. This study is based on Critical race theory, which has as its aim to uncover the ideologies that have been constructed to perpetuate the oppression of some social categories on the fallacious pretext of race superiority and purity. After going down to the ancient roots of physical distancing practices, this work will recall social distancing behaviors during the slave trade era before delving into the current confusion between both terms in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. This work stresses the importance of social scientists to assess some official terminologies before their popularization.

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