Subproject C12 — The pandemic condition:
Health Security and politics of epidemiologic data
third funding stage (2022-2025)
Unlike sudden disasters, the public health emergency surrounding COVID-19 was characterized by a long-lasting - and to date, unfinished - period of time. Measures of security had to be continuously adapted to a volatile situation. Accordingly, agencies charged with infection control tasks faced the challenge of capturing and managing the pandemic event as a dynamic duration. The research project starts from the observation that media of quantification served as crucial tools to capture this dynamic and make it governable. The first work project therefore focuses on the graphical and visual techniques, which try to capture and represent the unfolding situation in "real time": How can a situation that is permanently unfolding be made visible by means of numerical-visual techniques? The second project focuses on simulation models that describe scenarios of potential pandemic courses: How is an unknown future illuminated on the basis of epidemiological ratios, estimates, and hypothetical assumptions to tie decision-making processes to a calculation of the "lesser of two evils" (Weizman 2011)? The projects aims to excavate the calculative techniques, normative implications, and aesthetic practices enshrined in technologies of quantification. Because they have permanently informed the pandemic situation and prepared it for wide-ranging intervention, their critical analysis is able to shed some light on the political epistemology of health security.