Bodies-In-Waiting as Infrastructure: Assembling the Philippine Government’s Disciplinary Quarantine Response to COVID-19

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The purpose of this article is to advance the concept of bodies-in-waiting as an everyday infrastructure to explain the shifting nature of ‘pandemic cities’ in response to the changing dynamics of infection control in urban spaces. While previous literatures have been ‘sanitized’ to emphasize the importance of managing optimal physiological health and safety, we would like to argue that keener attention is needed to rethink the constitutive role of bodies in co-producing a city's sociopolitical ecologies at this time of crisis. The main body is divided into three sections. The first section introduces the political dimensions of pandemic response by various governments with an emphasis to experiences of middle to low income countries. Our intention is to show how these studies bring into light the role of local politics of pandemic response within countries, and that actual governance mechanisms in cities are shaped and contested by shifting power blocs and emergent affinities. The second section forwards an embodied urban political approach that conceptualizes bodies-in-waiting as infrastructure. In this view, bodies-in-waiting is produced and reproduced by complex social-material flows and transformation rooted in variegated matrices of power through which urban spaces are (re)assembled. The last section demonstrates a sample case that shows how bodies-in-waiting as infrastructure are understood using Twitter-sourced data associated with the Philippine government's disciplinary quarantine measures which started March 12, 2020 in the NCR. At its core, bodies-in-waiting as infrastructures populate a politically affirmative urban imaginary of bodies living on despite the existence of an accelerated and mutating virus in slower moving cities.