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Between Boxes

COVID-19 and Cultural Studies


Banner image featuring a spray painted graffiti mask and the series title.

Amanda Carvalho

July 7, 2020

Image of Amanda Cavalho in black and white.

This is an experimental auto-ethnographic work based on my subjective experience as a migrant woman of colour living in complete isolation, away from family and friends during COVID-19. It speaks to the overlap between themes of cultural geographies, social distancing, and pandemic affects, or the psychic life of COVID-19. 

Once again, I discover my displaced body limited, enclosed, immovable. A different kind of displacementshared but incommensurable. Between the white walls and the white windows, I find myself locked in a boxnot the one I have been placed into before, but a new kind of box, with new implications for the already diasporic body I inhabit. How far can a body depart from somewhere? How far can a body be positioned from another? How much space can the boxes within my boxes distance me from the people surrounding me? Is there enough distance? The shared distancing might bring us together, but the distances within the distances become even more evident. This felt, embodied distance is not the same felt, embodied distance that displaced bodies experience. What already separates us persists regardless of the physical space we occupy. Nevertheless, I am privileged. I get to live in this immaculate space between the white walls and the white windows. Outside the windows, I fit into the boxes chosen for me. Within the box created between these windows and walls, I establish a new kind of space. A space in which my gaze can look back at the current distant white gazes beyond the white walls and the white windows. No one is watching.


Amanda Carvalho is a Brazilian designer. She is currently taking the curatorial practices stream of the MA in Cultural Studies at The University of Winnipeg. Her research interests involve exploring intersections between design thinking, visual cultures, performance, and creative methodologies as decolonizing tools. 


Essay image credit: Amanda Carvalho.


The banner image was designed by Lauren Bosc, adapted from an image by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash.


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