Merrill Singer, Barbara Rylko-Bauer
December 25, 2020
This paper examines the COVID-19 pandemic in light of two key concepts in medical anthropology: syndemics and structural violence. Following a discussion of the nature of these two concepts, the paper addresses the direct and associated literatures on the syndemic and structural violence features of the COVID pandemic, with a specific focus on: 1) the importance of local socioenvironmental conditions/demographics and disease configurations in creating varying local syndemic expressions; 2) the ways that the pandemic has exposed the grave weaknesses in global health care investment; and 3) how the syndemic nature of the pandemic reveals the rising rate of noncommunicable diseases and their potential for interaction with current and future infectious disease. The paper concludes with a discussion on the role of anthropology in responding to COVID-19 from a syndemics perspective.