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.

Update: Living and Thinking Crisis online series

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.

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.

The Unexpected Effect of Coronavirus: The Re-Birth of Sociology [and Sociologists]?!?

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.

Coronacapitalism and Hindu Rashtra in India

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.

Charity in time of plague

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.