Life Matters: The Human Condition in the Age of Pandemics (An Introduction)


The world has recently experienced the ravages of the COVID-19 epidemic and new, terrible wars. The pandemic and the wars now being waged show us how fragile human life is on our planet. The facts that the COVID-19 virus came originally from one or more animals that are part of the human food chain, and that the viruses themselves are forms of life very different from plants and animals, have altered our perception of our place in the world. Wars fought in this changed biological context have also shown how precarious the balance of power is in what we have come to see as a global humanity. Scholars in the fields of Humanities and Cultural Studies have risen to the occasion by focusing on the cultural effects of biological and war-time violence-related catastrophes. In this issue of RIAS focusing on the Americas and their influence on the world, we look at the implications of pandemics and wars, and human reactions to similar threats in the past, such as the pandemic of the Spanish flu which decimated soldiers during World War I. And once again, literature comes to our rescue in the time of heightened angst, showing us paths of the mind already present in American literature that may nudge us in a better direction. Existential homelessness, Buddhism, and meditation, also appear here as “life matters,” and that in the double sense: they are both matters of life and signals that life, and especially human life, must matter.


COVID-19; pandemic; war; Review of International American Studies; IASA; Introduction

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Published : 2023-12-29

Vargas-CetinaG., & KangM. (2023). Life Matters: The Human Condition in the Age of Pandemics (An Introduction). Review of International American Studies, 16(2), 17-28.

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina
Autonomous University of Yucatan, Mexico  Mexico

Gabriela Vargas-Cetina is Full Professor and Researcher at the Faculty of Anthropological Sciences of the Autonomous University of Yucatan, where she coordinates the Laboratory of Sound and Acoustemology. She studies organizations and has done fieldwork in Canada, Italy, Mexico and Spain. She is interested in music and the arts, including their creation, production and presence in the digital world, and on the politics of representation in anthropology. Her publications include the book Beautiful Politics of Music: Trova in Yucatan, Mexico (U of Alabama Press, 2017) and the collection Anthropology and the Politics of Representation (U of Alabama Press, 2013). Her current fieldwork in Andalusia focuses on religious and musical organizations.

Manpreet Kaur Kang 
Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha Universsity  India

Dr. Manpreet Kaur Kang is Professor of English at the University School of Humanities & Social Sciences, and also the Director, Students’ Welfare at Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi. She holds a Ph.D. from Panjab University and her areas of interest include American Literature, Writing of the Indian Diaspora and Gender Studies. She has a teaching and research experience of thirty one years, which includes teaching at the graduate and undergraduate levels. She was a Shastri Fellow at the Department of English, University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. 2009–10. She has four books and twenty research papers to her credit and is the Editor of a journal. She has been presenting papers at National and International Conferences regularly and has been mentoring Ph.D. and M.Phil. scholars. She is the current Secretary, MELOW (Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the World) and a member of the IASA Executive Council.

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