As part of Mada al-Carmel’s series ‘Politics in the time of Coronavirus’, Dr Osama Tanus, paediatrician and doctoral student of public health, has given an online lecture exploring the implications of settler colonial practices on the current Coronavirus crisis. Drawing on the analysis of the Marxist scholar David Harvey, Tanus sets out a case for critiquing our understanding of ‘natural disasters’ like viruses. Whilst viruses exist in nature, the recent wave in highly contagious viral mutations like Ebola and Coronavirus are largely driven by ‘un-natural’ human interventions, and are spread rapidly by human means.

Tanus builds on this by pointing to the unequal impact of diseases in colonial contexts around the world: more often than not, indigenous populations suffer disproportionate rates of illness and infection. Palestinian communities in Israel and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories have suffered from higher rates of Coronavirus infections. The alienation of Palestinians in their own land and loss of Palestinian sovereignty, as well as problems accessing healthcare and Arabic-language information about Coronavirus, all have a role to play in evaluating why this might be the case.

Watch the lecture (in Arabic) here.