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Reflecting on the far-reaching changes the coronavirus has brought about in all spheres of life, this article takes an anthropological and phenomenological perspective on the new ‘normals’ of the pandemic, specifically with regards to bodily and linguistic practices. By placing phenomenologists such as Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty in conversation with anthropologists like Mauss, the article illuminates the ways in which the disruption posed by the pandemic has fundamentally altered our relation to others, our bodies, and ourselves. The article then moves to destabilize the dichotomy of ‘ordinary’ and ‘exception’ by analyzing the militarization of language; in showing its limitations in grappling with a world in pandemic, the article concludes with a call for novel forms of language that de-emphasize adversariality and instead promote the empathy and memory that the pandemic demands.
Keywords: phenomenology, bodies, bodily techniques, space, language, Coronavirus, pandemic