Updated: Jun 16, 2020
Today's collection comes to us from Zane Ahmad Choudhury. Zane has found a way to telescope in, documenting through posts on the Nextdoor app how his locality of Vancouver, WA is experiencing the pandemic. The posts show the economic pressure, the newfound social cohesion and simultaneously the policing of social distancing, the circulation of rumor and misinformation, and the particular vulnerabilities of the elderly, the elderly and the precariously employed at this time.
At the same time, Zane is documenting how the global Ahmaddiya community, of which he is a member, is coping with the disease. Zane's fascinating collection highlights how a tight-knit but far-flung diaspora, whose religious practices normally involves regular gatherings of congregants, is adapting to the constraints of social distancing, and how information, including religious guidance, is circulating within a community despite barriers of language and distance.
In other news, I had the great pleasure of "visiting" a class at Ahmedabad University, India, which, inspired by this project, is working on creating a historically informed archive of COVID-19 in India. I was deeply impressed by the students' work and look forward to seeing the final outcome. It was also a wonderful reminder that, while we may be isolated in some ways, we are also finding new ways to connect with each other.
Dr. Ananya Chakravarti