Ricky Varghese & Benjamin Weil, Privilege, Race & Imagined Immunities in the Time of COVID (Race, Ethics + Power Flash Event)

Race, Ethics + Power

Privilege, Race & Imagined Immunities* in the Time of COVID

As the COVID-19 pandemic endures into 2021 there are many ways to describe this moment such as “catastrophic”. We might also add “revelatory” to this list of descriptors. Revelatory in the sense that in moments of crisis, such as a pandemic, power structures of racial and economic inequality and inaccessibility to health care become more visible. These structures were present prior to, yet become more acute, when we consider the profile of the “good” or “responsible” citizen. But what constitutes the “bad or irresponsible citizen”? For example, individuals who ignore lockdown protocols, travel restrictions, or in recent trends wherein elites utilize power and privilege to travel and acquire a vaccine from regions with vulnerable communities? The desire to imagine the “bad citizen” is equally revelatory because in their actions an assumed social contract – perhaps founded upon an ethics of “care” has been breached or disregarded entirely. Who is empowered to do so without impunity? More importantly do crises such as a pandemic prompt us to critically question the “social contract” assumed to encapsulate an ethics of care that is seen as a collective aspiration and practice, but enacted differently?

*Wald, Priscilla. Contagious: Cultures, Carriers and the Outbreak Narrative. Duke UP (2008)

► please register here

This is an online event. It will be live streamed on the Centre for Ethics YouTube Channel on Friday, March 5. Channel subscribers will receive a notification at the start of the live stream. (For other events in the series, and to subscribe, visit YouTube.com/c/CentreforEthics.)


Ricky Varghese
Gender, Disability, and Social Justice

Ryerson University

Ricky Varghese received his PhD in Sociology of Education from the University of Toronto. He holds the Tanis Doe postdoctoral research fellowship in Gender, Disability, and Social Justice at the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University. He will be heading a SSHRC-funded speakers’ series titled “Sex and the Pandemic: Convergences and Divergences in Queer Men’s Sexual Health in the Midst of HIV/AIDS and COVID-19” which will run from May through to October of this year. He is also a psychotherapist in private practice since 2014, and a candidate in training to become a psychoanalyst through the Toronto Institute of Psychoanalysis.


Benjamin Weil
Science and Technology Studies

University College London

Benjamin Weil is a PhD candidate in the Science and Technology Studies Department at University College London. His thesis, supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, is a critical inquiry into the protest of the so-called “gay blood ban” in the UK. He works at the intersection of queer and science and technology studies and is also a founding member of the Decolonise STEM collective.

Fri, Mar 5, 2021
01:00 PM - 02:30 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
200 Larkin