Bodies Coming Apart and Bodies Becoming Parts

Dr Kandida Purnell, Assistant Professor of International Relations at Richmond, has just had an article published in a new open access journal, Global Studies Quarterly.

Entitled, Bodies Coming Apart and Bodies Becoming Parts: Widening, Deepening, and Embodying Ontological (In)Security in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the article examines ontological security and the body politics of the pandemic.

Dr Purnell explains, “Ontological security has become a big topic in International Relations in recent years and is normally used to describe individuals and states’ stable but potentially threatened sense of continuity in regard to identity (one’s sense of ‘self’. It’s a fascinating concept which I have broadened and deepened through the sociological notion of embodiment to underline how both individuals and collective bodies politic are not only ontologically insecure at the level of identity, but in terms of their being know and treated and therefore being as bodies.  The Covid pandemic has underlined for me the politics of ontological security at this deeper level.

“I begin the article with a quote by Boris Johnson in May 2021 where he talked about letting, ‘The bodies pile high in their thousands’, a remark which caused public outrage. It was not only the depersonalised reference to dead bodies that warrants Johnson’s remarks’ inclusion here but also his willingness to let bodies pile high in their thousands, which I found telling and relevant toward explaining the breadth and depth of ontological insecurity that threatens embodied subjects not only at the surface level of identity and selfhood but also all the way down to the existential and fundamentally ontological level of being in itself.”