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The Imperative Origins of Covid-19

Christos Lynteris
p. 21-32

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Two Epidemic Ontologies
Determining Covid-19’s Origins
The Trouble with Epidemic Origins

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In an interview for the British newspaper The Observer on 6 June 2020, Bruno Latour reflected on whether « an idea can go viral like a disease » in the following manner :

« Covid has given us a model of contamination. It has shown how quickly something can become global just by going from one mouth to another. That’s an incredible demonstration of network theory. I’ve been trying to persuade sociologists of this for 40 years. I’m sorry to have been so right ».

At another end of the theoretical spectrum, in a series of short online publications, Giorgio Agamben has read lockdowns and other epidemic response measures as a « state of exception provoked by an unmotivated emergency » :

« […] in a perverse vicious circle, the limitation of freedom imposed by governments is accepted in the name of a desire for safety, which has been created by the same governments who now intervene to satisfy it ».

Both philosophers seem interested in the pandemic only to the extent that it proves their theori...

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Christos Lynteris, « The Imperative Origins of Covid-19 », L’Homme, 234-235 | 2020, 21-32.

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Christos Lynteris, « The Imperative Origins of Covid-19 », L’Homme [En ligne], 234-235 | 2020, mis en ligne le 14 octobre 2020, consulté le 28 novembre 2020. URL : ; DOI :

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Christos Lynteris

University of St Andrews Department of Social Anthropology, St Andrews (Scotland) –

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© École des hautes études en sciences sociales

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