SSAHE (Social Scientists Against the Hostile Environment) would like to invite you to its webinar which will take place on Monday 13 December, 5-6.30pm

The webinar is free but please register as soon as possible via Eventbrite to secure your place:

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, it was clear soon after the pandemic began that it could only be controlled through international cooperation, in terms of developing tests, vaccines, medications and treatments. At the same time, in practice, the pandemic response has involved higher levels of everyday bordering in three ways that have important ramifications for the hostile environment. First, people’s mobility has been constrained – in different ways and to different degrees in different countries. These constraints ranged from higher levels of filtering international travel, to limiting movements across and within regions in the same country, to being prevented from leaving home or staying away from work. Second, everyday bordering operated in terms of who had access to preventative and post-viral treatments and in terms of which sectors of the economy became paralyzed and which were given contracts by the government (with no public accountability or rationale). Third, everyday bordering intensified throughout the pandemic in terms of the racialisation of nationalist and global mobilities of people and money.

In this webinar, three excellent speakers who are particularly well placed to address these issues focus on the UK, India, and Cyprus, will highlight different vernacular as well as transnational impacts of these developments.

Presentations:

Coronationalism in the United Kingdom – Between and Beyond Borders

Abstract: The UK remains one of the worst affected countries by the Coronavirus pandemic. The crisis has been the biggest issue encountered by all governments in the UK, compounding and intensifying constitutional hostility and tensions sparked by the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. Looking at the pandemic through a constitutional lens, I examine how the pandemic reified both internal and external borders, analyse its impact on existing nationalist movements in the UK at both a national (e.g., Scotland) and state level, and ponder the existential question – Will the UK survive beyond the pandemic?

Speaker: Paul Anderson is Lecturer in International Relations and Politics at Canterbury Christ Church University. He is co-lead of the UACES-JMCT funded project ‘Reimagining Territorial Politics in Crisis’ and director of the research group ‘Federalism and Conflict Resolution’. His most recent publications focus on the impact of Covid on devolution and nationalism in the UK. He is currently working on a book comparing territorial politics in Catalonia and Scotland, to be published by Manchester University Press in 2022.

Care and Carelessness in Covid times

Abstract: COVID-19 has revealed deep inequalities in our societies based on class, race, ethnicity, gender, age and region. These inequalities have also been marked by national borders and borderings especially between the global North and South. Orientated between India and the UK, we adopt a mobile and doubly reflexive lens characteristic of a diasporic consciousness to focus on conditions of care and carelessness in the two countries in the face of a global health crisis. We add another lens to the professionalised and the community-based aspects of the “careless society” – that carelessness invokes accidental (careless) as well as a wilful, structural disregard (care-less) that is propounded by the state. Hereon, we denote this conceptual conflation as care/less and examine its articulations in four main overlapping areas: (i) of leaders and the reproduction of privilege; (ii) in undervaluing care labour; (iii) in marginalising people of minority racial or ethnic backgrounds; and (iv) in the lack of investment in social infrastructure.

Speaker: Shirin Rai is Professor in the department of Politics and International Studies. She is Director of Warwick Interdisciplinary Research Centre on International Development. She was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2021. Her research interests are in performance and politics, gender and political institutions and the political economy of development. Her latest books include the Oxford Handbook of Politics and Performance (2021; co-eds M Gluhovic, S Jestrovic and M Saward) and Performing Representation: Women Members in the Indian Parliament (with Carole Spary; OUP), 2019. She is currently working on two books – Depletion: the human costs of caring and Doing Politics Sideways.  

Buffering in the Buffer Zone: Vaccine Certificates, Hostility, Solidarity in Postcolonial Cyprus

Abstract: Covid-19 subjected all of us to enter sites of uncertainty and confinement, but it is the people in one of the world’s last divided capitals who entered extreme uncertainty in sites without rights, living trapped between internal borders, now buffering in the buffer zone. Navigating its way within and between the Eastern Mediterranean Island of Cyprus and the UK, this paper explores the experiences of and responses to Covid-19 through a postcolonial and partitioned perspective. Focus will be on Cyprus’s responses to the pandemic in light of British colonial legacy and heritage, the opening and closing of the internal borders, crossing between the north and south checkpoints, and un/recognized vaccine certificates. Thus, exposing the contestation over partition met with multiple ways people have been trapped in the north side, south side, or middle of the divide. Whilst the officials hardened partition, nationalism and the hostile environment by equating the pandemic outbreak with the movement of Cypriots, migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers; the campaigners, activist and literary and artistic community contested this through a distinct solidarity and hospitality that blurred the dominant binary legacy. These paradoxical responses have been gathered through discussion and collaboration with experts, officials, policy makers, activist, campaigners from both sides of the divide in Cyprus.

Speaker: Bahriye Kemal is a Lecturer in Contemporary and Postcolonial Literatures at the University of Kent, a writer/poet, and peace activist. She has published widely on space, place and displacement, borders and conflict, and solidarity/activism as related to postcolonial east Meditereanean and Britain. She is author and editor of numerous books and journals, including Writing Cyprus Postcolonial and Partitioned Literatures of Place and Space (Routledge, 2020), Nicosia Beyond: Barriers: Voices from a Divided City (Saqi, 2019), and Visa Stories: Experiences between Law and Migration (2013). She is an active member of organisations that work with displaced people, including serving as trustee for Kent Refugee Help, and a mentor for Cara’s Syrian Programme.

Chairs:

Nira Yuval-Davis (UEL), Gwyneth Lonergan (Lancaster) Ann Phoenix (UCL), Grainne McMahon (Huddersfield)