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Letters from Corona Ground Zero to Helsinki: Notes on the pandemic and the environmental crisis

Toni Lahtinen,

Abstract: This is a special kind of article, based on a combination of essay-style writing and references to both academic studies and public discussion. Toni Lahtinen, a Finnish ecocritic, arrived in Seattle just before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. He sent electronic postcards to Helsinki to Panu Pihkala, a Finnish researcher on eco-anxiety. The correspondence between the two internationally recognized scholars contains first-hand observations and wide-ranging meditations on global anxieties. One important theme is how the dynamics of othering and privilege are evoked instinctively in threatening circumstances. The first COVID-19 infections in the USA were confirmed in Seattle on January 21, 2020, and until mid-March, the state of Washington had more infections per capita than any other state. Before Lahtinen returned to Finland, 75 000 Americans had lost their lives due to the pandemic and the number of unemployed had increased with 20 000 000 people. The fourteen letters between Lahtinen and Pihkala provoke the reader to think about coronavirus anxiety, eco-anxiety, and methods of coping.
Keywords: Lahtinen / pandemic / Finnish / Letters / Pihkala / Seattle / COVID / eco / Helsinki / anxiety

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