Feeling and Writing in Suspension: Waiting in COVID-19 Shopping Queues

Authors: Victoria J E Jones*, University of Durham
Topics: Cultural Geography, Social Geography, Qualitative Methods
Keywords: waiting, feeling, affect, sensation, materiality, fluid suspension, writing
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 12
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The COVID-19 virus and subsequent UK national lockdown were a catalyst for new practices of waiting. A number of government measures were introduced that disrupted practices of work and home life. Social distancing rules changed how queues were enacted, elongating temporalities and creating new forms of bodily and material presences. New emotional resonances gained shape within tensions created amongst moments of uncertainty or of reassurance. New forms of spatial power evolved, determined by government policy and enacted through spaces of consumption. This paper focuses on a phenomenon, a particular form of waiting observed in twenty two shopping queues during lock down in the North East of England, UK. Waiting practices formed through the COVID-19 lockdown, opened new forms of feeling, requiring new forms of articulation. As such the paper is an experiment with language and form speculatively describing feelings, sensations, materialities and temporalities, through a metaphor, fluid suspension. Initially the paper outlines what waiting is and does in order to provide a touchstone when considering the feelings shaped within new forms of waiting. It will then outline and consider what fluid suspension can open as a writing device. Working with fluid suspension and the work of queer and cultural theorists, the paper elucidates concepts of surface and viscosity in order to describe the morphologies of mood and sensation felt and shared within COVID-19 shopping queues.

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