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Working paper series on COVID-19: Urgent Responses

In the space of just a few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus has radically transformed the lives of people around the globe. The papers in this collection speak to the systemic questions the pandemic has raised.

Jun 08, 2020

The objective of the IGHC working paper series is to foster dialogue and awareness of research among scholars at McMaster and elsewhere whose work focuses upon globalization, its impact on economic, social, political and cultural relations, and the response of individuals, groups and societies to these impacts. Given the complexity of the globalization phenomenon and the diverse reactions to it, it is helpful to focus upon these issues from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The series also seeks to assist scholars at McMaster and elsewhere to clarify and refine their research on globalization in preparation for eventual publication.

The collection starts with a mediation on the ways in which the body is at the center of the pandemic, is constituted and imagined as the center of health, how this imagination has consequences for – for example – “care, justice, solidarity, and expertise” (Biruk). The succeeding papers take up this point by moving the discussion into the arena of inequity and social justice. From the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has made starkly visible the dire conditions of water and sanitation access for Indigenous Peoples in the United States, Canada, and globally (Leonard), exacerbated the unequal application of law enforcement for migrant, racicalized, and trans communities (Lam, Wong, and Scott), to how Black and African diaspora face significant health, social and economic losses as a result of COVID-19 (Abebe) – it is important to recognize how vulnerability is not simply a casualty of this pandemic but a systemic feature of our contemporary political and social system. The point extends into the realm of memory and mourning (Dean), including what acts of memory reveal about whose lives and deaths matter most in Canada. There is the important questions of how social distancing affects 3 our ability to mourn our losses together in public, and how the memory of previous pandemics assist us (or not) in preventing further calamities and pandemics (Moffat). This collection’s final explorations carry us into the realm of epistemology and possibility, asking about epistemic forms of violence embedded in our times and the risks of a “new normal” (Yong). In the end, we may come full circle. As Hannah Arendt urges us to enrich our capacity to imagine existent political orders and life anew (Frost), she also asks us to open up spaces for publics and the kinds of the debate that takes place in this collection.

View the working paper series