Viral Ethnography: Metaphors for Writing Life


Celia Lowe asks what it means to “write life” beyond the human as viral ethnography. Recounting her research into virus and their companion species, notably avian influenza and Elephant Herpes, she notes that although viruses are imbricated in mammalian evolution, some contain the capacity to kill or compromise human and animal life. Thus, caring about dangerous viruses means acknowledging both those human practices that encourage viral development and success and those that thwart pathogenic viruses, as well as appreciating the agency and mystery of viral emergence.