Research Towards
a New Politics of Care


Over the summer of 2020, researchers at the CSR investigated patterns in the distribution of COVID-19 while critically questioning the role of mapping and data visualization in understanding the pandemic. The research sought to match the COVID-19 count data at the county level with various other datasets to spatially explore patterns and trends in the spread of the virus across multiple scales.

While some projects prioritised an expansive approach to policy making and the distribution of key resources according to vulnerability, others zoomed into particular clusters of outbreaks in meatpacking plants and Native American reservations to elucidate long standing vulnerabilities that have been exacerbated by COVD-19.

The outcomes of the research demonstrate a wide variety of formats, each engaging a unique representation strategy that incorporates diagrams, maps, videos, and interactive data visualizations.

Case Studies

Mapping the New Politics of Care

The case studies above were conducted alongside a collaborative effort between Columbia and Yale Universities, Mapping the New Politics of Care. This project links the effects of COVID-19 in the United States with a wide range of social, economic, and environmental conditions and guides policy makers and the public in deploying health care workers to communities most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The online map uses a wide array of up to date data. It shows that decisions about caring for those affected by the pandemic depend not just on surging or falling infection rates but instead on taking into account a range of pre-existing vulnerabilities in U.S. society. These conditions and vulnerabilities predated the pandemic and created the conditions for the virus to flourish in this country. The map displays the acute inequalities embedded in the social and political landscape of the United States. This pandemic is not simply biological. It is a symptom of an illness in our body politic. As SARS-CoV-2 roars across the country, it is following the fault lines of social vulnerability.

Project Team

Name Project role
Laura Kurgan Principal Investigator
Dare Brawley Assistant Director
Jia Zhang Mellon Associate Research Scholar
Caitlin Blanchfield Graduate Research Assistant
Adeline Chum Graduate Research Assistant
Nelson De Jesus Ubri Graduate Research Assistant
Nadine Fattaleh Graduate Research Assistant
Spenser A Krut Graduate Research Assistant
Adam Vosburgh Graduate Research Assistant