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  • Viral/Vital Conditions: The Viral Underclass with Steven W. Thrasher

Viral/Vital Conditions: The Viral Underclass with Steven W. Thrasher

Date & Time

Wednesday, March 22, 2023, 12:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.




Alexander Library, Pane Room (157)

169 College Ave New Brunswick, NJ, 08901


Tanya McDonald


This event is part of the Viral/Vital Intellectual Series AT ISGRJ-New Brunswick

The Viral Underclass with Steven Thrasher Banner

This signature on the soundstage event featuring Steven Thrasher, acclaimed author, professor, journalist and inaugural Daniel H. Renberg Chair of Social Justice in Reporting at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism was held on March 22, 2023.

Thrasher was in conversation with moderators Carlos Decena and Donna Murch, with a focus on his upcoming book: The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide.

This event was part of the ongoing Viral/Vital Conditions Series at ISGRJ-New Brunswick.

Steven Thrasher, Donna Murch and Carlos Decena
Steven Thrasher, Donna Murch and Carlos Decena at The Viral Underclass Signature Book Talk on March 22
Steven Thrasher, Donna Murch and Carlos Decena at The Viral Underclass on March 22
Donna Murch and Carlos Decena at The Viral Underclass on March 22
Steven Thrasher and Donna Murch


Steven Thrasher and Carlos Decena
Carlos Decena - Steven Thrasher
Steven Thrasher Audience
Steven Thrasher Presenting
Steven Thrasher Presenting 2
Carlos Decena - Steven Thrasher
Thrasher speakers
Steven Thrasher, Donna Murch and Carlos Decena at The Viral Underclass on March 22
The Viral Underclass with Steven Thrasher Flyer

About the Featured Speakers:

Steven W. Thrasher holds the inaugural Daniel Renberg Chair at Northwestern's Medill School, the first journalism professorship anywhere to focus on LGBTQ research. He is also on the faculty of Northwestern's Institute of Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing. An interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Thrasher is an internationally recognized expert on race, social epidemiology, and the criminalization of disease who has addressed universities and medical institutions around the world. In 2020, he served as a national surrogate to presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, advising the campaign on its healthcare policies. He has written about the HIV/AIDS, Covid-19 and monkeypox epidemics for the New York Times. Guardian, Atlantic, and BuzzFeed News, as well as in numerous scholarly journals. His first book, The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality and Disease Collide, was published in August by Celadon Books and Macmillan Publishing to wide acclaim. The book has received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews, Booklist and Publishers Weekly; was named one of the Best Books of August by Apple and Amazon; was named one of the Best Politics and Current Affairs Books of the fall by Publishers Weekly; was named a "must read" editors' pick by USA Today; is a finalist for the 2022 POZ Best in Literature award, for the best depictions of HIV/AIDS in literature; and, is a longlist finalist for the American Library Association's 2023 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction Literature.  He holds a PhD in American Studies


Carlos Decena, PhD, is the Cross-Campus Director of Undergraduate Intellectual Life and Associate Director of the Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. He is also Professor of Latino and Caribbean Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Rutgers University–New Brunswick. Decena is an interdisciplinary scholar, whose work straddles the humanities and social sciences and whose intellectual projects engage and blur the boundaries among critical ethnic, queer and feminist studies and social justice. His first book, Tacit Subjects: Belonging and Same-Sex Desire among Dominican Immigrant Men, was published by Duke University Press in 2011. His book, Circuits of the Sacred: A Faggotology in the Black Latinx Caribbean, was published in February, 2023 by Duke University Press.

Donna Murch is Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University, where she is Chapter President of the New Brunswick chapter of Rutgers AAUP AFT. Her newest book, Assata Taught Me: State Violence, Racial Capitalism, and the Movement for Black Lives was published by Haymarket Books in March 2022. In October 2010, Murch published Living for the City: Migration, Education and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California with the University of North Carolina Press, which won the Phillis Wheatley prize in December 2011.  Professor Murch is currently completing a new trade press book entitled Capitalism Plus Dope: Policing the Crisis and the War on Drugs in Los Angeles.  She has written for the Sunday Washington Post, Guardian, New Republic, Nation, Boston Review, Jacobin, Black Scholar, Souls, the Journal of Urban History, Journal of American History, Perspectives and New Politics and appeared on BBC, CNN, Democracy Now and in Stanley Nelson’s documentary, Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution and Sam Pollard’s MLK/FBI.  

About the Series:

Viral/Vital Conditions is an invitation/provocation for the Rutgers University community, featuring veterans, academics, activists, and artists engaged in deepening our collective understanding of the current COVID-19 pandemic in the context of earlier pandemic outbreaks such as HIV/AIDS and Monkeypox. We will examine the long-historical dimensions and practicality of living in a world increasingly shaped by multiple meanings of "virality:" how do people, communities, and systems learn from previous experiences? What are the politics of race, class, materiality, and representation in fashioning capacious futures for the most vulnerable among us?

The events in the Viral/Vital Series aim to bring attention to these interconnections and bridges linking our past and present for the sake of drawing lessons towards viable futures for all.