The Southwest Stories Collection within The Journal of a Plague Year seeks to highlight and preserve stories about life under the pandemic in the Southwest, especially for vulnerable individuals and communities who have, in many ways, been most impacted by the virus.  

All are welcome to contribute.  We are interested to hear how our communities- individuals and organizations alike- are coping and faring during this pandemic. We encourage anyone from the Southwest region to share their stories- photos, blog posts, emails, journals- anything materials related to the effect of the pandemic on our communities. 

ASU/Luce COVID-19 Rapid Relief project

The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict has partnered with  the Henry Luce Foundation to advance the ASU/Luce COVID-19 Rapid Relief project. Under the direction of John Carlson and Tracy Fessenden, the project is awarding grants to nonprofit organizations that provide direct COVID-19 relief to vulnerable individuals, families, and communities in Arizona.

Grant funding is designed to complement and expand the capacity of regional nonprofit organizations that are focused on providing direct support to marginalized communities, including:

The project also chronicles “Southwest Stories” to raise public awareness about the challenges faced by marginalized groups and the relief organizations that serve them. These stories will report on the impact the pandemic has had on Native Americans, migrants, agricultural workers, and others whose stories aren’t often told in the press. The collection was created in partnership between Arizona State University's Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the Journal of the Plague Year (hosted by the School of Historical, Philosophical & Religious Studies) to house the work of the students and journalists who lost employment due to the pandemic.  The stories and items included in this collection represent the specific communities aided through the Luce Foundation Grant and the ACRS, as well as others with ties to the Southwest United States and its various communities. 

Read about the ASU/Luce Covid-19 Rapid Relief Fund here

The Henry Luce Foundation

The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding.

The Foundation advances its mission through grantmaking and leadership programs in the fields of Asia, higher education, religion and theology, art, and public policy.

In response to the CoVid-19 pandemic, the Foundation’s Board has authorized the President to approve the reallocation of grant monies in cases in which grant recipients experience serious adverse effects as a result of the pandemic. In addition, the Board has authorized the awarding of up to $5 million in new urgent-needs grants in support of long-time partners, or communities and sectors, that are suffering from the pandemic or efforts to control it. Such grants—up to $250,000 each—will be awarded on an as-needed basis, outside of the regular grants calendar.

In April, the Foundation awarded 23 emergency grants totaling $3.1 million. Read the announcement.

In May, the Foundation awarded $1.8 million in additional emergency grants. Read the announcement.

The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict

The Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Arizona State University advances multidisciplinary research and education on the religious dynamics of conflict and peace.

By fostering exchange and collaboration, the Center creates networks—local, national, and global—that expand knowledge, deepen understanding, and promote wiser, more effective responses to some of the world's most pressing challenges.

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

The Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication is one of the nation’s top journalism schools and is home to Arizona PBS, the largest media outlet operated by a journalism school in the world. Students receive hands-on experiences in Cronkite News, a multiplatform daily news operation with bureaus in Phoenix, Washington and Los Angeles. With professional programs in digital media, public affairs reporting, broadcast news, digital innovation, public relations, sports reporting, Spanish-language news and more, Cronkite offers a real-world education for the digital media world of today and tomorrow.

The School of Transborder Studies

The School of Transborder Studies, the only one of its kind in the United States, promotes academic excellence and social change by developing cutting-edge interdisciplinary knowledge regarding the populations of the U.S.-Mexico transborder space and beyond. We effect social change by developing and nurturing integrated scholarship and teaching, leading to more successful and sustainable transborder communities. At the center of expertise and action, we make borders human.

Recent Stories

  • This is a black and white photo which depicts a man wearing a backwards baseball cap and two dogs staring out of a screen door.

    James Rayroux's JOTPY Portfolio

    --Reflections on the Pandemic Archive-- Looking back over my experience with the “Journal of the Plague Year” COVID-19 archive, my prevailing emotion is gratitude. This opportunity granted me experience that few historians earn, and the remote, asynchronous work schedule allowed me to collaborate with my colleagues in ways that maximized our respective contributions. The breadth and depth of our individual experiences and perspectives tremendously improved our collective process and products. I spent enough time in the Arizona State Archives last year to recognize such collections as historical treasure chests, but I have now participated in processing an archive’s content and navigating the ethical dilemmas those submissions sometimes create. Archivists and curators are the history profession’s truly unsung heroes, and their work facilitates society’s perception of itself. My background in police work and public safety drew me to the archive’s existing Law Enforcement collection. In taking on that subset, I succeeded in reshaping the collection’s parameters to now include stories about police and law enforcement. I wanted to diversify the collection to encompass perspective of both the police and the public with whom they interact and serve. While some overlap exists between the Law Enforcement and Social Justice collections, each remains distinct. Through my contacts and writing, I promoted a Call for Submissions to an international audience of law enforcement professionals to reduce their relative silence within the archive. Within the archive’s content, I recognized that one’s location might shape their pandemic experience, and I created and designed an Arizona-based exhibit to explore that. Further research and discussion with my mentors and colleagues ensured the exhibit illustrated these differences without excluding visitors whose diverse experiences could further enrich the archived and exhibited content. I am proud of my “Arizona’s COVID-19 Pandemics” exhibit, particularly because of its compressed, one-month incubation period. Beyond displaying images, data, and stories representative of the diverse pandemic experiences within the state, the ACP exhibit offers visitors numerous levels of interaction and engagement to became active participants and create their own exhibit experience. Visitors can complete opinion surveys, add a story to the archive, explore additional content related to the displayed pieces, view ever-changing results from pre-defined archival content searches, conduct their own archival search, view collective visitor survey results, and apply to join the staff. The exhibit’s searches will include the archive’s future submissions, which reshapes both the exhibit and the experience visitors may have with it. A more detailed explanation of my ACP exhibit may be reviewed here: Because of Dr. Kathleen Kole de Peralta and Dr. Mark Tebeau, I stand prepared to join research, curation, and exhibition teams and immediately contribute to their work products. Despite my gratitude for this experience and the opportunities it presented, I look forward to the day COVID-19 is no longer part of humanity’s daily vernacular. James Rayroux 22 April 2021
  • JOTPY Exhibit: "Arizona's COVID-19 Pandemics" by James Rayroux

    While working as a curatorial intern on ASU's 'A Journal of the Plague Year' COVID-19 archive, I created this exhibit on the pandemic experience within the state. In addition to obvious, overarching realities such as socioeconomic status and immediate access to healthcare systems, I initially believed one of the greatest deciding factors that determined one's experience in Arizona was an individual's residence in either predominantly urban or rural environments. The proposed exhibit had been originally titled "A Tale of Two Arizonas" to pay respect to Charles Dickens and the differing realities experienced here. To test my proposed hypothesis, I went about finding data, stories, and submissions that substantiated or disputed my premise. Within a short time, I had identified four distinct environmental drivers of personal pandemic experiences; to me, that indicated the existence of many more I hadn't yet found or had overlooked along the way. My evidence suggested a minimum of four pandemic locales: Urban, Rural, Border, and Tribal within the State of Arizona and its fifteen counties. The recorded health data and personal experiences demonstrated the naivete of my initial hypothesis, and I retitled the exhibit: "Arizona's COVID-19 Pandemics." The Exhibit Background section illustrates the vast dichotomies within Arizona in terms of population density and access to healthcare facilities. Given the virus's respiratory nature, these factors seemed especially relevant to driving diverse local experiences. I chose to include a flyer from the Coconino County Health and Human Services' "Face It! Masks Save Lives" campaign. The flyer included a specific line to "Stay Home When Sick" that seemed to illustrate a different public health paradigm than the broader "stay home" orders from Maricopa and Pima county. This section also features an image of Sedona's red rocks and a portion of The Wave to remind visitors of the wide-open rural areas accessible to all, as well as those with cultural significance to the Native American tribes and limited access to the general public. The next section asks a short, five-question survey in which visitors may participate. The Silver Linings piece features a short audio clip of a father and husband discussing some unexpected benefits of the pandemic. Visitors may explore additional Silver Linings stories and submit their own experience. The Tséhootsooí Medical Center piece seeks to illustrate the different pandemic experience on the state's tribal lands. I hoped to inspire some relevant emotional turmoil for the visitors through the piece's visual presentation. I wanted to create a series of waves with quotes from the medical center's healthcare workers. I hoped visitors' attention would be drawn to the large, bolded key words, and that they would first experience the segments out of sequence because of that. After potentially feeling a sense of chaos, they might settle themselves into a deliberate reading of the texts and find their own order within the experiences provided here. This piece allows further exploration of Native submissions and topics, a review of an additional related news article, and a submission prompt that invites visitors to offer guidance to hospital managers. The next piece illustrates the differences between mask mandates in communities across Arizona. In addition to hearing an audio clip of interviews with mayors and a public health official, visitors can explore additional submissions related to mask mandates and submit their thoughts on statewide mandates. The Arizona Department of Health Services provides zip-code specific infection data on its website, and the wide array of known case infections therein further illustrates potential dichotomies across the state. In working to include and represent this data in a consumable way, I encountered inconsistencies with tribal data. The nation's Indian tribes are overseen by Indian Health Services, a federal public health agency, and it does not collect or report data in the same manner as the State of Arizona or its counties. At first glance, the data would seem to suggest that tribal areas had less severe pandemic experiences than the rural and urban areas, which was not objectively true. I wanted to offer the unedited data to visitors, allow them to drawn their own conclusions, and invite them to offer their thoughts on what potential misunderstandings might emanate from these reporting differences. Visitors may also choose to review the foundational data from this piece, as well. I used the following two sections to offer submission prompts about the visitor's overall pandemic experience as a function of their location, as well as what they might have done if placed in charge of their city, county, or state during this pandemic. A diverse Search section allows visitors to explore additional topics of interest to them. 23 hyperlinks offer pre-defined search parameters. An Advanced Search link allows self-defined research, and a Join The Staff link connects visitors with opportunities to work within the JOTPY archive. A final section asks visitors to provide feedback on the exhibit, its content, and the pandemic in general. Both surveys within the exhibit will display overall results to visitors who participate in them. Through this process, I found incredible amounts and diversity of data outside the archive that spoke to these generally localized experiences, but not that much yet within the archive explained what Arizonans had experienced outside the state's urban environments. I created a call for submissions and delivered it to fifty rural entities that might help support the effort to collect and preserve more rural Arizona stories. Between all the local libraries, historical societies, museums, small-town mayors, and county health officials to whom I asked for help, I am optimistic the archive will better represent all Arizonans in the coming months and years. Despite the exhibit having been created, I ensured its internal search features would include future submissions and allow the exhibit to remain relevant long after its release.
  • How the Pandemic Has Affected Refugees

    In this episode, we at the Podcast of the Plague Year were granted the opportunity to record interviews with two organizations assisting refugees that have been relocated to Arizona- RICE and Lutheran Social Services of the Southwest. Refugees are those who have been forced to flee their country because of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, or political opinion. Almost 3 quarters of a million refugees have been resettled in the United States since 2008; they often come with very little resources to begin life anew once resettled. Life for refugees during resettlement comes with hope, but also with struggles to learn a new language, navigate new employment and educational systems and integrate into a new society. It is easy to imagine how a pandemic could intensify already existing struggles.
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