Caring about the unequal effects of the pandemic: What feminism, art, and activism can teach us
This Special Issue encourages academic debate around how social and gendered inequalities exacerbate under times of bio-political and socio-economic crises—such as the COVID-19 pandemic— in an increasingly globalized and transnational world. Exploring interconnections between feminist philosophy, art and activism, we call for a wide range of methodologically disruptive papers, which preferably (though not exclusively) critically analyze diverse gendered experiences in light of intersectional and transnational feminist perspectives on inter-connectedness, relationality and care (e.g., Butler, 2004; Ettinger, 2006; Holvino, 2010; Federici, 2012; Fotaki & Harding, 2017).
The pandemic has called into question certain key premises of the neoliberal ideology—including individualism and the ability for market mechanism to maintain economic fairness—while accentuating issues of gendered power relations, intersectionality, diversity, and inclusion, among others. Nascent COVID-19 research documents disproportionate risks and worsening prospects for women, socially and economically vulnerable populations of the Global South (Wenham et al., 2020; Prasad, 2020; Wasdani & Prasad, 2020) as well as increased instances of feminicide, sexism and racism.
By dramatically reiterating how vulnerabilities are socially recreated and unequally distributed across different bodies situated at varying intersections of race, gender, ethnicity and class in a transnational neoliberal world (hooks, 1984; Apaddurai, 1995) of serial socio-economic crises, COVID-19 has sparked new and pre-existing solidarity initiatives reminding us of the unavoidable conditions of interdependence that sustain human bodies (Fotaki, 2019; Fotaki et al., 2020). Notably, attesting to their political potential to create a free space, where marginalized, transnational identities can be expressed for desired social transformation to be imagined and endeavoured (Fernandes, 2013; Li & Prasad,
2018), artistic and activist initiatives continue to lead efforts to bond different bodies together against neoliberal patriarchies (Mendes, 2020), even under social isolation (Mandalaki & Daou, 2020). Such initiatives propose new forms of knowledge, relationality and resistance, which promise to create possibilities for re-centering care, inclusion of difference and solidarity as foundations of our society.
Thus, COVID-19 presents us with a timely opportunity: to reconceptualize the possible forms of relationality that vitally encompass social life and to understand how these can reframe the paramountcy of individualism that proliferates under the neoliberal order (Fotaki & Prasad, 2015), thereby creating new and perpetuating old forms of inequalities and global poverty (Shiva & Mies, 2014). Underscoring this need, this Special Issue invites a wide range of theoretically informed contributions critically discussing these issues, especially those with a non-conventional format, inspired by art, activism, feminist thought and/or feminist forms of doing and writing research (Fotaki et al., 2014; Prasad, 2016; Pullen et al., 2020). Specifically, we invite poetic accounts (van Amsterdam & van Eck, 2019), short essays/prose, manifestos, activism (Alakavuklar, 2020), reflective accounts of (post)quarantine (Plotnikof et al., 2020), embodied (auto)ethnographies (Prasad, 2014; van Amsterdam, 2015; Mandalaki, 2019), dialogical/multi-voice accounts (Ahonen et al., 2020; MeldgaardKjaer & van Amsterdam, 2020) and arts-based research (e.g., Biehl-Missal, 2015, Ward & Shortt, 2020) engaging with photography, drawing, collage, performance, film/drama, video, dance and others.
By encouraging multi-disciplinary connections between feminist philosophy, art and activism, we acknowledge the political capacity of genre-blending, non-traditional methodologies, to create an inclusive space, where different voices can be expressed and heard, to catalyze global debate over the power structures that sustain social inequalities. This promises to enliven organization studies by reconnecting it to situated human experiences of othering in a globalized, neoliberal world and to identify possibilities for social and political transformation. We welcome papers that explore, but are not limited to:
- Gendered experiences on the reification of patriarchal structures amid/post-COVID-19 crises;
- Experiences of diversity, intersectionality and social inclusion/exclusion in a translational (post)pandemic world;
- Construction of diverse/hybrid identities within social, economic, power dynamics, under global crises;
- How COVID-19 links with pre-existing crises and social inequalities to create opportunities for relationality, solidarity and social justice;
- Theoretical or empirical papers informed by feminist philosophy and/or ethics of care addressing broader societal implications of the (post)COVID-19 crisis;
- Feminist writing, activist writing as a catalyst for social change amid global crises;
- Poetic, storytelling or dialogical/multi-voice accounts exposing (post)COVID-19-related experiences;
- Accounts discussing world-changing activist responses intended to counter pre-existing social, racial, gendered inequalities in a post-pandemic world (e.g., Black Lives Matter, WEDO, Me Too);
- Embodied differences: How different bodies navigate times of global crises;
- Arts-based research accounts on (post)COVID-19 related experiences;
- Accounts unveiling the political potential of artistic forms of expression to create possibilities for social change;
- Ethnographies, netnographies, autoethnographies related to (post)pandemic experiences and beyond;
- Activist (post)pandemic responses, including academic activism, research and teaching for desired futures;