Air, bodies, affects and quarantines: containing fear and constructing atmospheres of security and tranquillity

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Bonastra, QuimBonastra, Quim - ORCID ID
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cc-by (c) Quim Bonastra, 2021
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This article will investigate, based on the idea of “atmosphere”, the possibilities raised by the study of the containment of fear in the case of an epidemic in nineteenth-century Marseille. Following Derek P. McCormack, atmospheres will be understood from different and, as will become clear, complementary perspectives. The first is atmosphere understood in its meteorological sense, that is the zone of gaseous material surrounding our bodies and which will be treated here as something that can play a role in the onset and dissemination of epidemics. The second is atmosphere in an affective sense, a set of “shared feelings and moods in a particular space or environment”. Drawing on the contributions of Gernot Böhme on the aesthetics of the reception and production of atmospheres, it will be argued that the atmospheres of security and tranquillity that emerged in Marseille in the presence of epidemic danger were low-intensity atmospheres with the capacity to last over time. Within these atmospheres, elements of a diverse nature were combined, some continuous and others more exceptional, which, taken together, helped create an affective community.
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SHS Web of Conferences, vol. 136, núm. 02004, p. 1-8