Volume 25, Issue 3, 2021
Cora Olson, Claire Simpson
The American Trajectory of an Aimless Disease
We argue that dominant white cultural views and public health co-produce race as a technology that charts the path of viral transmission away from the white bodies to form a trajectory for an otherwise aimless disease. This epistemological project is one enmeshed in popular culture, medical practice, and biopolitics. COVID-19 and the related Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement work together to make visible the narrative technologies. This project contributes to understanding race and public health as co-constituted in ways that shape imaginative possibilities, material and agential realties, and health outcomes in light of COVID-19. Our argument is novel in naming race a technology of American public health and taking up Coeckelbergh and Reijers’ call for a normative theory of narrative technology. We extend Coeckelbergh and Reijers’ narrative technologies to include race, a narrative artifact, co-produced by biology, public health, and individual actors.