COVID-19 diagnoses: a source of immanent values and novelty

Rosengarten, Marsha. 2021. COVID-19 diagnoses: a source of immanent values and novelty. Medical Anthropology Theory, [Article] (Forthcoming)

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Abstract or Description

Although the body is fundamental to observation and feeling, it’s experience of infection is regarded by the biomedical sciences and, concomitantly, by the social sciences as relatively obtuse: situating it as a mere object of inquiry. As if its intricate and highly complex dynamics are no more than an imperfect animated machine and, concomitantly, infection is a change to its normative mechanisms. In this brief comment piece, I ask: what might be afforded to the problematic diagnosis of communicable infection and, hence, for global health strategies of containment, if the body were appreciated as an active participant in diagnoses? To do so, I take up the ‘pluralist panpsychist’ proposition that bodies think. Counter to the view that thinking is the preserve of the human mind and value is an ‘after’ ascribed to a given fact or situation, I experiment with the idea that the body’s sensory awareness can be thought as a creative source of immanent values. Drawing on a series of empirical examples primarily focussed on the perceived novelty of Covid-19, I offer a preliminary sketch of how a revaluing the body as involved in decision-making and novelty might enrich the scope of biomedical and social diagnoses.

Item Type:



COVID-19, infection, immanent values, novelty, diagnosis

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Invention and Social Process (CISP) [2016-]


4 March 2021Accepted

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

16 Mar 2021 11:17

Last Modified:

17 Mar 2021 17:34

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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