Cognitive and Medical Misanthropology: Corona Parties and Kolo Dancing by the Monument

  • Bojan Žikić Department of Ethnology and Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade
COVID-19, Serbia, cognitive anthropology, medical anthropology, misanthropology, defiance of rules, morals, cultural notions, parties, kolo dance


This paper looks at so-called corona parties in Serbia, which can be seen as a specific paradigm of exhibiting irresponsible health behavior during an epidemic. The term refers to illegal gatherings of a large number of people in circumstances when all gatherings are restricted under anti-epidemic measures. A phenomenon similar to corona parties and co-ocurring with them in the Serbian socio-cultural and pandemic temporal context, is the dancing of the traditional kolo dance in public spaces. Both phenomena represent a conscious disregard for one's own health and of regulations introduced by the authorities, and at the same time an emphatic public display of indifference towards the epidemiological situation in the country, and rejection of the consequent legal restrictions on public life. The paper aims to establish the cultural background of such behavior, i.e. to ascertain its socio-cultural meaning. The indirect or direct endangerment of one’s own or other people’s health, particularly in a pandemic, can be seen as a misanthropic act. The cultural notions on which such irrational behavior is based are a consequence of a postmodernist relativization of previously existing socio-cultural discourse on science, and are counterintuitive. Behavior based on these notions is an irrational response to changes in socio-cultural reality due to COVID-19. The response is not only irrational but also ineffective, as it cannot eliminate the undesired consequences of the given situation, neither in terms of the illness itself, nor in terms of how it will be managed by those who have been put in charge by the government. Due to this, such behavior can also be seen simply as a deliberate defiance of rules. The misanthropic quality of the behavior of those who ignore anti-epidemic measures by dancing kolo in the streets or attending corona parties is evident in the conscious rejection of the principle of not harming others. Ignoring the possible health risks to themselves, they ignore the possible health risks to others, and thus become social factors of biological contagion. It is in this way that such behavior becomes the cause of the extension of the very state of socio-cultural reality against which it is supposed to be directed.


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How to Cite
Žikić, Bojan. 2021. “Cognitive and Medical Misanthropology: Corona Parties and Kolo Dancing by the Monument”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 16 (2), 391–420.

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