Task 1 Analysis of Viral Ethnography Metaphors for Writing Life by Celia Lowe

Task 1: Analysis of “Viral Ethnography: Metaphors for Writing Life” by Celia Lowe

In her article, Celia Lowe asks what it could mean to write about life beyond humans. She narrates her extensive research into the world of viruses, most notably the deadly influenza virus and the Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus. She documents that although virus plays a role in the existence of human beings, some can kill or comprise human and animal life (Lowe, 2017). Therefore, caring about dangerous viruses should mean acknowledging human activities that encourage viral thriving and those that destroy viruses causing diseases. This summary focuses on explaining the author’s discussion on the importance of studying and directly understanding viruses to capture the author’s formal tone and expository writing style. Lowe thoroughly and directly informs and explains to the readers the importance of viral ethnography. What if we experience another pandemic tomorrow? Will it have the same impact as Covid 19? Reading the article felt like reliving the experiences of 2020 when the global pandemic hit the world. On 31st December 2019, the first case of Corona Virus was reported in Wuhan, China, my home country; the following days were challenging, stressful, and full of anxiety and anticipations. The outbreak came when I was preparing to go back to school for the Spring term; this meant traveling out of the country that seemed impossible at the time. A few weeks later, my government and my destination country banned international traveling as one of the measures for containing the Corona Virus spread. Initially, it felt like a one-month postponement, but as the number of positive cases and the death toll increased, reality set in; maybe we are never going back to schools. It was emotional reading the article as the world still feels the impact of the global pandemic, and the memories of friends and relatives we lost during the pandemic are still fresh. Lowe writes, “Viruses receive extra attention and motivate social action when they exhibit the capacity to kill or compromise human and animal life.” I like this quote; it serves as a reminder and a warning to individuals globally to respond swiftly in case of an outbreak and not wait until they face the epidemic’s impact to act. In the beginning, countries downplayed the seriousness of the Corona Virus, which is among the reasons the pandemic hit the world severely.

Task 2: Analysis of “We don’t harvest animals; we kill them” Agricultural Metaphors and the Politics of Wildlife Management in the Yukon by Paul Nadasdy

Paul documents that individuals’ language when referring to wildlife determines their relationship with them in his article. He refers to the most debatable question in most wildlife discussions “do we harvest or kill wildlife?” In his submission, he suggests that the language people use to refer to wildlife is structured by metaphors. These metaphors lead to a different understanding of wildlife management, its goals, and appropriate wildlife management methods (Nadasdy, 2011). He extensively discusses the First Nation people metaphor that views wildlife management as the maintenance of social relations and the wildlife biologist’s metaphor that views wildlife management as agriculture and the overlap between these metaphors through a case study of Aishihik wolf kill. This summary explains Paul’s discussion on the impact of language on individuals’ relationship with wildlife and their understanding of wildlife management in a direct manner to capture Paul’s assertive tone and expository writing style. In the article, Paul conveys his message directly and honestly, successfully explaining to readers the structured metaphors wildlife biologists and First Nation People use to refer to wildlife. Hunting seasons are a period people look up to; for hunters, it is a time to hit the woods and relive their hunting experience, and for non-hunters, it is a time to remind the world of the importance of conserving wildlife. The article mirrors an incident I witnessed between my brother and father years ago. My father loves hunting, and every hunting season, he narrates to us the events of the past seasons. I clearly remember when he and my brother fought over what my brother termed insensitive conversation. My father was describing his first day killing an antelope and how he felt victorious, and my brother accused him of being cruel and normalising killing. In his defense, he told my brother being honest and factual is not being insensitive or disrespectful. To him saying “killing an antelope” was presenting facts. The article was insightful, and reading it made me question animal hunting sport. Should animal hunting sport be banned? Is animal hunting sport necessary? Environmentalists continue to warn people on the rise of animal species extinction and the need for individuals to contribute to wildlife conversation. Paul writes, “We don’t harvest animals; we kill them.” I like this quote as it reminds people that if you can engage in the act, then be bold enough to acknowledge it. The word harvest softens the act of killing wildlife and makes it sound more acceptable in society.


Lowe, C., 2017. Viral Ethnography: Metaphors for Writing Life. RCC Perspectives, (1), pp.91-96.

Nadasdy, P., 2011. 7. “We Don’t Harvest Animals; We Kill Them”: Agricultural Metaphors and the Politics of Wildlife Management in the Yukon. In Knowing Nature (pp. 135-151). University of Chicago Press.

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