“Every life, every agency, is susceptible to being exploited or betrayed, or threatened by wars, immigration policies … In reality, vulnerability exists only in situations” (Ferrarese 2016:154).

We are attentive to the use of “vulnerability” as a label over-attributed to particular communities (such as Indigenous peoples; impoverished communities). We thus use the term to reference the experience of constantly active, structural pressures that are “embedded in the political and economic organization of our social world”– structures that “conspire to constrain individual agency” (Farmer 2004). Additionally, we recognize that vulnerability may also describe “existential state[s] of unpredictability, of living without security” (Hundle 2012:288). Clearly, individuals and collectivities carry different burdens and they have fewer options due to historical and contemporary processes that perpetuate inequalities. Disseminating some information may be experienced as stigmatizing by those whose experiences with COVID-19 evoke painful histories and / or contemporary realities of incessant racism and other forms of oppression.To counter stigmatizing and overly generalized definitions (Das 2007), we focus on “textures of vulnerability” eliciting ethnographic description as it attends to “the concreteness of need and the singularity of lives” (Han 2018:340;Butler 2016). Our project honours this specificity by inviting “witnesses” with experiential knowledge, long-term engagements in community-based research and, analyses of the larger contexts of power that affect local dynamics.

We recognize “ecologies” as the intersecting contexts that exacerbate suffering and increase exposure to the possibility of harm. Simply,we imagine vulnerability as a quality or state of being exposed to and/or unprotected from the possibility of harm; as occurring within a cascade of (experienced and possible) situations that are historical, social, political, environmental etc..

Vulnerability Survey

The Public Information Survey consists of six questions as well as options to include links to media or other references; upload audio; or, upload an image. This survey publishes directly to the map and is publicly visible.

Recognizing that some information is sensitive, we designed a Sensitive Information Survey using Qualtrics that allows for information to be submitted to an archive on a secure server in Canada with access limited to project members (rather than the public). This survey includes the option to indicate where the information might be sent for best results. The project team will honour those requests when possible.

If you would like to contribute, please email the project team. You will receive an Invitation with live links to the survey.

Project Email: Anth.CovidVulnerabilityMap@ubc.ca

Butler, Judith. 2016. Rethinking vulnerability and resistance. Vulnerability in Resistance, 12-27.Durham: Duke University.
Das, Veena. 2007. Life and Words: Violence and the Descent into the Ordinary. Berkeley: University of California.
Ferrarese, Estelle. 2016. Vulnerability: a concept with which to undo the world as it is? Critical Horizons 17(2):149–59.
Farmer, Paul. 2004. An Anthropology of Structural Violence. Current Anthropology 45(3) 305-325.
Hundle, Anneeth Kaur. 2012. After Wisconsin: Registers of Sikh precarity in the alien-nation. Sikh Formations 8(3): 287-291.