A Void like the Plague: Fragments of Domestic Theory

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.

India’s migrant crisis: the sovereign injunction that was not

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.

Only a virus can save us?

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?

The Utopian Counterfactual

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

COVID-19 remapping East Asian Modernity

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.

Photo essay – Of Tea and Grit: Kolkata in the Time of COVID-19

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.

Culture in ‘Isolation’

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.

The new (un)reality of death: Reflections on death awareness and the ‘Corona Crisis’

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.