COVID-19 has prompted a renewed awareness of how we use our bodies under “normal” circumstances. COVID-19 is also demanding that we change our bodily behaviors to prevent the spread of the pandemic. This entails both transforming existing techniques and learning new ones. These hygienic practices are all part of a particular set of bodily techniques that Marcel Mauss called “care of the body,” or prescribed, everyday physical acts that serve to maintain the well-being of individuals and to affirm their belonging within broader social communities.
Differing approaches to COVID-19 divided by the rolling hills and windy roads (of which there are many) of one of Europe’s most porous borders, have precipitated a personal sense of panic. To move, to cross at that moment would be to transit between contrasting regimes of existential risk, from caution to putative disregard. It has been hard to bear.