Care in the time of Zika: notes on the ‘afterlife’ of the epidemic in Salvador (Bahia), Brazil

K. Eliza Williamson About the author

This article presents a reflection on the “afterlife” of the Zika virus epidemic, drawing on the narratives of mothers of children born with neurological malformations associated with the virus in Bahia. Based on eleven semi-structured interviews with mothers and fathers whose children are attended in a state rehabilitation center, and in dialogue with contemporary theorizations of time and disability in cultural anthropology, it proposes an approach to the temporality of Zika and its effects. Three narratives are highlighted, showing how their children’s unpredictable condition, together with the precarities they already experience, make the future almost impossible to imagine. In the face of so much uncertainty, mothers create alternative forms of thinking about, interacting with, and appreciating the child in her or his own terms. This article suggests that hope may include, paradoxically, “expecting nothing”.

Zika; Time; Disability; Maternity; Anthropology


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