It’s been several weeks since we launched our special online series of essays and photo-essays; engaging with the pandemic in the real-time of its making. Our aim has been to document the thoughts (and lived-experience) of authors and artists from diverse locations, cultural/political contexts and from different intellectual perspectives.
Below you will find a list of the articles published to date. More to come over the next few weeks.
Jeffrey Alexander (Covid/Floyd), Jonny Steinberg (Sovereignty in South Africa), Warwick Anderson (Death in Bondi), Beth Vale (The Virus in the Queues), Charlie Veric (Praying in the Pandemic) offer local perspectives with a global relevance.
An online workshop on “Living in Crisis” organized by the TASA Social Theory thematic group and Thesis Eleven.
Speakers: Deborah Lupton, Craig Calhoun, Peter Vale and Peter Beilharz
by Alonso Casanueva Baptista
The secretariat of public education in Mexico – the institution in charge of the standardized schooling practices there – organized for the current semester to take place via radio, internet, but most importantly, television. From August 24th to the end of the school year (July 2021), thirty million Mexican students will enrol in school whilst relying on technologies that usually do not play a central role in their formal learning experiences. The written word will be overtaken by waves, signals, and connections.
by Timothy Andrews
In the current pandemic, we find ourselves in a similar situation to that of Virginia Woolf’s audience in Between the Acts. Forced into our homes as a result of lockdown measures, a mirror is held up to us so that we can see the intimacy of our lives under the stark light of history unfolding in the present. Like Woolf’s audience, we too are on the cusp of a new era.
I can’t wait to see what it’s like on the outside now: a postcard from quarantine in downtown São Paulo
by Isabela Capovilla Romanetto and Matheus Capovilla Romanetto
That it was possible to dream in more depth is immediately related to how much more silent the city became. This is not only an effect of the absence of people on the streets, but also of changes in the mobility system, which for some time had less buses, and generally less cars around. Downtown São Paulo is an enemy of dream life.
by Tim Soutphommasane and Marc Stears (Sydney)
For the most part, the Australian government’s response has been effective in suppressing the numbers of infection since the virus was detected here in March 2020. There are, however, signs that we are now seeing a more worrying new phase of conservative ideological ascendency in Australia.
by Andrew Simon Gilbert
It has become increasingly common over recent years for academics to declare a “crisis of trust” in Western institutions. One of the main points of this crisis has been the healthcare system, with eroding trust in doctors and the institutions of biomedicine apparently evident in surveys, as well as the proliferation of “anti-vaxxer” ideology and people’s willingness to second-guess health professionals
by Alex Oelofse
Cape Town is a city of astonishing beauty and contradiction. It is tough, beautiful, relaxed and edgy in different proportions. The god’s eye view by drone of this austere beauty leaves us wondering, in awe, of how life goes on the ground, and when it might return to its own version of normal.
by Peter Newman
Then we turned the corner of a new decade with raging bushfires in Australia, and the unleashing of a frightening new pandemic. Could this be the crisis that would creatively lead to a new green economy as I optimistically suggested and have written much about for most of this century?
by Emily Floyd
New Wages For Students: A poster after Lotta Feminista is a Print on Demand artwork by Emily Floyd, especially for the T11 Living and Thinking Crisis series
by Howard Prosser
Camus is back. The Plague is everywhere. Its brave everyday characters resonate with our ideal selves, our care workers, and our belief in a possible ending to the global pandemic. But his allegory also highlights how exclusionary politics is always an option. Our city selves are vulnerable – to plague, to authority – in spite of our desire not to be. Outbreaks remain possible. They can get out of control. Liberalism is not immune to tyranny.
by Ira Raja
In the weeks that followed the announcement of the lockdown, the Government of India, not unlike governments elsewhere, issued several rules and decrees, all purportedly aimed at containing the contagion through non-violent measures or what the Indian PM called ‘the people’s curfew’. But the biopolitical measure of the lockdown, meant to illustrate the mechanism of making (rather than letting) live, was beset from the beginning by a range of contradictions.
by Michael Marder
The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 is an effect of definite (objective) causal chains. Nonetheless, the way it is called upon to serve as the blueprint for a transition to an ecologically sensitive life is spurious, purely accidental. Accidents may, of course, be of at least two types: random events that do not presuppose an actor at all and unforeseen effects of an action that is deliberate. How does SARS-CoV-2 fit within this scheme?
by Gianpaolo Baiocchi
Living through the extended pandemic and its still unfolding aftermaths has been sobering for those of us who understand ourselves as critical scholars in the social sciences. Events have unleashed fast-evolving social demands, from #cancelrent to #defundthepolice that dialogue with the very same radical theory that we write and teach, and yet we have struggled to respond to this radicalism meaningfully, particularly as it pertains to radical possibility
by Mark Harrison
The political meaning of the virus is contending constantly with its biological realities. But as its transmission has slowed in Asia, it is leaving behind newly calcified traces of the long-standing enmities, political compromises and aspirations of different modernist visions set in place in the early 20th century history of modernisation in Asia.
by Nilanjana Deb (text) and Jishnu Basak (photos)
Until a vaccine is made cheaply and readily available for all, Kolkata – like all cities – will have to keep moving between phases of city-wide lockdown, limited lockdown within containment zones, and periodic easing of travel and other restrictions to enable businesses and institutions to continue to function.
Institutional and Personal Engagement in the Response to the Covid-19 Medical Crisis, A View from Inside China
by Sikong Zhao
This short essay aims at reflecting upon the way the Covid-19 crisis has consolidated the popular Chinese perception of the connection between official institutions, party membership and grass-roots participatory politics with Chinese characteristics. Nation-wide expectations for effective management, organizational capabilities and rapid implementation have been very popular in a country with more than 1.4 billion people.
by Donald Sassoon
Consuming culture in almost complete isolation has been possible for years but under the conditions of the current pandemic we are encouraged and even obliged to do so.
by Michael Hviid Jacobsen
Almost overnight, death – after being absent for such a long time – re-entered the collective consciousness of contemporary society. Death, the constant doppelganger of life that we had been successful in keeping at arm’s length for so long, suddenly kicked in the door and made itself something to be talked about, acted upon, dealt with. This time, death (or at least the prospect of and potential for it) presents itself as the ‘Corona virus’, which within a few months has become a worldwide problem and transformed the way we live.
by Izabela Wagner
We cannot spend our lives being blind and pretending that we are too weak to change the powerful system, especially those of us who are sociologists and scholars, who should be the ‘medical doctors of our societies’. Societies are our sick patients today, and not only because of coronavirus. Our societies are touched by callousness. By insensitivity to the violation of human rights. We, as members of that society, are also ill, because of our passivity. We are imprisoned by our conformism and focused only on ourselves.
by Nivedita Menon
In India, twin processes have driven the country in accelerated mode since the parliamentary elections of 2014, in which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power – predatory capitalism and Hindu supremacist politics. Both have seamlessly melded with the virus to emerge as practically invincible, at least at this moment in time.
by Glyn Davis
Charity might not be ideal, but in a world of limited states it matters that wealthy individuals and organisations address the consequences of inequality. Best they not be required, but better they exist than leave people destitute.
by Ayça Çubukçu
There is a utopic element buried in the apocalyptic saying, “Another End of the World is Possible.” It too champions something. In the time that remains, it too affirms the possibility of another reality.