Inspired by the Council’s Rachel Tanur Memorial Prize for Visual Sociology, we ask prominent scholars to select
a visual artifact of this time that will help future researchers understand the Covid-19 crisis.
Economist and Executive Director, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, The Ohio State University
"By placing this graph in a time capsule, I would hope that future iterations of our society would realize that [these racial mortality disparities are] preventable; that there are steps we could have put in place so as to not make a population so vulnerable, a population identified by something as cursory as their race."
Professor of Political Science and Director, Stavros Niarchos Foundation Agora Institute, Johns Hopkins University
“the image is emblematic of how limited our capacities for public accountability have become. How is it that frontline healthcare workers are left with such a paucity of available repertoires to advocate for what they believe is right? In this image, this nurse is reduced to a solitary standoff against a line of huge trucks. The pandemic has exposed the emaciated nature of so many of the systems that govern our lives… In choosing this picture, I was thinking particularly of the way it shows that government has been unable to solve the most basic problems in peoples’ lives, and the brokenness of our democracy in providing people with opportunities to hold unwilling or unresponsive leaders accountable. As a result, people are pitted against each other in a fight for the scraps government has left."
Goddard Professor in Media, Culture and Communication at New York University; Professor of Anthropology at The Hertie School – Berlin
“the image begins to capture the very real problems for two categories of people… the migrant worker and the slum dweller [who] are the hardest hit under the current regime and the most vulnerable to a rampant pandemic, in India…The image of Dharavi is just one example of a larger narrative, telling the story of the horrible conditions so many people across the globe find themselves in… Dharavi, highlights the starkness of the problem, but it does not exhaust the horizon of more optimistic possibilities.”
Director of the Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion and Dean of the School of Social Sciences, UC Irvine
"The image is a “How would you like to pay?” sign. Something like what you’d see in a store or restaurant or online; and it gives you the options of Visa, MasterCard, or toilet paper. When the pandemic and shelter-in-place started, there was a rush to the stores to hoard toilet paper… This led to a broader commentary online and elsewhere about the nature of “value”…That’s what is interesting to me about the image. It captures more than just the pandemic."
Andrew W. Mellon Professor, School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study
"Congiunti is a synonym for relatives, but is mostly used in legal and bureaucratic documents. Although it is part of the vernacular, it is not the colloquial word Italians use to refer to relatives, which is parenti. The hashtag #congiunti gained national and international attention at the end of April 2020, when the Italian government announced the rules for the so-called Phase Two—the partial relaxation of the stay-at-home policy....The rule ignited satire and serious commentary."
Founder, Data & Society and Member, SSRC Board of Directors
"Somewhere in the American psyche, there’s still an awareness that their convenience is someone else’s problem. But it would be un-American to demand that such workers are compensated for their risk. After all, that would result in higher prices. Instead, we thank such workers with care packages meant to symbolically show our appreciation without actually ensuring that those workers and their families are safe."