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Other links:

Zones: Zombies, Infrastructure, and Pandemic (MLC)

Why do we expect the nation-state to protect us from pandemics and to repair damaged roads? According to the seventeenth-century political theorist John Locke, our conception of public welfare had to expand beyond protecting and enforcing private transactions to conceptions of the common good, order, and access to roads and markets. Yet, as many of our greatest writers have noted, we only realize that our conceptions of justice have come to encompass public duties, health care, and infrastructure in moments of crises when roads fall into ruins and bodies succumb to pandemic. In this class, we come to these concepts through the literary tradition of the zone, which is an area of artificially supported trade and legality. The most recent example of the zone with which you may be familiar is the Green Zone in Iraq, but in actuality we are surrounded by “zones,” from downtown Chicago and downtown New York to Guantanamo Bay, Rajiv Gandhi Educational City, as well as most maritime ports. We imagine zones into reality, and they become crossroads of trade, military force, finance, and communication. We will focus on literary depictions of the zone, which are organized around figures such as zombies, highwaymen, castaways, survivors, and human commodities whose freedom is traded away in free trade zones – such as slaves and indentured servants. Reading list includes Zone One, One Flea Spare, Zoo City, A Journal of the Plague Year, The Female American, and The Corpse Washer.

Study at Ashoka

Study at Ashoka