Immunity debt: Creating and contesting metaphors

This week I am writing a post about my probably last Covid metaphor: immunity debt. What do people mean by that, I wondered? While trying to find out, I became aware of how slippery a concept this is; so I apologise in advance for misunderstandings. In 2021 a French group of researchers published a paper …

Science, communication, politics and power

I haven’t written about science communication for a while. It’s a thorny subject. But a few days ago, Ken Rice posted some musings on science communication which made me think. He argues that when ‘we’ (I suppose he means individuals or nations or indeed policy makers) don’t “deal with various societal problems as well as …

Monkeypox and metaphors

Again and again, I have come across standard ways of metaphorically framing infectious diseases and their spread, be it foot and mouth disease, avian influenza, swine flu, SARS, Zika, Covid, and now monkeypox. War and invasion metaphors are used abundantly, but also fire, wave and flood metaphors, landscape metaphors like valleys and peaks and much …

Poxpics: The visual discourse of monkeypox

Last week I talked about the coronavirus as an invisible killer and discussed some shortcomings of that metaphor. However, despite the nefarious uses of that metaphor, we should not forget that the coronavirus IS indeed an invisible threat and can be an invisible killer; no way around it. It wafts through the air unseen and …

Invasion of the covid metaphor

This post is cross-posted from the i-human Covid-19 blog (University of Sheffield). It summarises a chapter I wrote for the book Being Human during Covid-19. I’d like to thank the editors of the book for both inviting me to write the chapter and giving me the opportunity to blog about it. *** As Milan Kundera said in …

Monkeypox

I recently saw these stats (as of May 31, 2022, there are 606 cases of Monkeypox worldwide, with the UK having 190, Spain 136, and  Portugal 100) and this graph (see featured image). And I thought: Should I write something about monkeypox? Then I thought: Why not, just to get things straight in my head. …

Covid metaphors: Three chapters and a special issue

When the pandemic began and I listened in to the chatter on the news, I started to think about the metaphors people used to talk about this devastating global event. I wrote quite a few blog posts on language, communication and metaphors. I also began various more academic activities which led to a special issue …

Covid metaphors: Around the world in eight articles

When the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, Martin Döring (Institute of Geography, University of Hamburg) and I (Institute for Science and Society, University of Nottingham) began to assemble and then edit articles dealing with its metaphorical framing around the world (not the whole world, of course!). Covid-19 killed millions of people and caused huge distress …

Omicron: From Frankenstein to Hurricane

When threatened by anything from AIDs to zoonoses, we unconsciously use war metaphors and natural force metaphors (storms, tsunamis, fires, avalanches, volcanoes etc.). We can also use more consciously created metaphors, such as Frankenstein (created in the 1990s). Such old and new metaphors help us understand and mitigate old and new risks and threats. War …

Lockdown, freedom and responsibility

Two years ago, we learned a new word: ‘lockdown’. This was in fact an old word which acquired a new meaning during the Covid-19 pandemic. That new meaning gradually changed over time. Now ‘lockdown’ has more or less lost its meaning and just stands for something to be avoided at all cost or something that …