“What if the virus is not something simply to be feared and eliminated, but a microscopic model of what it could look like to spread justice and joy in small but perceptible ways?” asks Ruha Benjamin (African American Studies) in her new book “Viral Justice” (Princeton University Press). She takes COVID-19, which we are used to encountering in negative terms, and turns it upside down, exploring its potential for engendering hope and social change.
Benjamin studies the social dimensions of science, medicine, and technology. She received the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2017 and was named an inaugural Freedom Scholar in 2020. She created the Ida B. Wells JUST Data Lab, which brings together students, educators, activists and artists to rethink and retool data for justice. The lab shared educational resources through The Pandemic Portal, which analyzed COVID-19’s racial dimensions and received support from a 2020 Rapid Response Magic Grant of the Humanities Council.
On October 11, Benjamin kicks off a 20-city book tour across the U.S., Europe and Africa, including an appearance at 7 p.m. on October 27 at Princeton Public Library, in an event co-sponsored by Labyrinth Books and Princeton’s Department of African American Studies and Humanities Council.