When most people think about bugs, it’s usually about how to get rid of them. Applying the metaphor of a bug to a human scales them down to a realm where death is quotidian and inconsequential.
When I began writing this piece about parasitism and hospitality, I was living in an Istanbul in shock from the bombings at Ataturk airport. I was living in a nation where the trending hashtag was “We don’t want Syrians in our country,” referring to them as “dirty, vermin, parasites, freeloaders.” By the time I came to make the final edits I was living in an Istanbul reeling from the attempted coup, after a night spent diving to the ground and hiding in a neighbor’s kitchen as the sonic booms of jets rocked the building and gunfire blasted through the streets outside. Two days later, as news of the purges of thousands of judges, military personnel, police, prosecutors and academics spread, I heard that language again. This time it came from the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he announced that he would remove all viruses from state institutions.