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Webinar: Subjects and citizens in the time of Covid-19

Thursday, 14 May 2020 at 13:00

Join PLAAS for the next webinar in this series. This webinar, “Subjects and citizens in the time of Covid-19”, features Phillan Zamchiya (Senior Researcher, PLAAS, University of the Western Cape), Fiona Anciano (Associate Professor, Dept of Political Studies, University of the Western Cape), and Thapelo Mohapi (Ndifuna Ukwazi & Reclaim the City).

In this webinar, we explore the potential for a democratic politics of life and health in the time of the Covid-19 crisis. All over the world, governmental responses to the pandemic have tended to be ‘top-down’ and narrowly biomedical—treating vulnerable populations as objects of epidemiological interventions, or as subjects of administrative control. Rights to freedom of movement, to economic activity, and even to freedom of speech have been tightly curtailed. But keeping populations healthy is also a social and political challenge. Without wide public legitimacy, even the tightest and most stringent lockdown measures must fail. And, there is a real risk that responses to the pandemic can do long-term damage to the space for democracy and to the relationships between states and citizens.

Questions for discussion include:

  • How are the South African and Zimbabwean governments going about the task of enforcing lockdown and social distancing regulations in settings of informality, poverty and marginalisation?
  • How are citizens responding to the biomedical approach of the state?
  • What are the implications of a biomedical approach for the social legitimacy of government, the effectiveness of pandemic response and the safety of vulnerable populations—and the health of democratic politics?
  • Is there space for a democratic, bottom-up, citizen-oriented, politics of health?

Watch the webinar here: Or click below to view.