Online Colloquium 14 January 2022
We're still there! Covid-19 interrupted us but obviously won't stop us. On the contrary: there's even more food for thought and debate now...
As an in-between step to our next conference in Budapest (20/21 May 2022) we will hold an online colloquium at 14 January 2022, 14.00 - 17.30
Reflections on a post-covid landscape
From grieving to hopeful & therapeutic solidarities
With: Renata Salecl, Jan Slaby and Fabian Bernhardt
< Please register via 'Registration'-Tab >
Social Pathologies of Contemporary Civilization are convening a colloquium on the emerging post-covid landscape, to illuminate lessons we can draw from all that has been lost during Covid, and to consider the possibilities that this liminal world-historical moment opens up; to give a reading of the extraordinary times we are living through, an analysis and formulation that is both critical and hopeful. Our event will be a colloquium in the form of ‘illuminations’ (after the model of Walter Benjamin, like facets of a prism, casting light from several different angles); seeking reflective equilibrium located in a dialectical tension between ‘critical reflections’ and ‘hopeful horizons.’
Questions we hope to discuss:
- Ultraliberalism seems to be victorious again. After a brief moment of amazement at the start of the Covid-19 crisis - a small break, intermission/intermezzo, reflection pause - we now witness, while the covid-19 measures are loosening up, the launch of a massive taking-back-our-freedom-operation, Bernaysean style so to speak. But, there was this brief moment, this intermission/intermezzo. Will it make any difference?
- The symbolism of vaccination: the centres are very nice -festive, joyful, friendly, grateful! a kind of potlatch: here is the gift of the vaccine -a public gift, given ‘free’ to the masses, received with thanks (and smiles and laughter all around), as though recognizing that this gift, the vaccine, was as reciprocation for peoples’ gifts of compliance and the sacrifices they’d been making for the past 12 months. Vaccination as a mimetically contagious anti-virus not only to Covid, but to the toxic mimetic ‘contagions of the will’ so characteristic of recent times. What is the deeper cultural meaning of overcoming the pandemic through vaccination? How is it related to the reality of global inequalities, the politics of life or death?
- In many countries we have got a quick glimpse at how it looks like, when a society starts to believe that the pandemic is over (at least for them). In many cases this implies collective amnesia: the triumphant political and economic communication urges a quick return to the previous ‘normal’. No real sign of regret or humility, neither expression of compassion or grief, nor reflection about social justice - not much talk anymore about the global situation (which seems to become severer day by day), no talk about vaccine-nationalism, vaccine-capitalism etc. While it is psychologically understandable that people want to get over the collective trauma of the past year, yet it is shocking how those little sparks of (global) solidarity evaporate, which were detectable previously. How can we save at least some pieces of it?
- However, this self-imposed ignorance is only one dimension of the post-pandemic mind-set. It seems there is no easy way back to the carefree hedonist consumption patterns of neo- or ultraliberalism. Not just because of the two year long trauma is too close and severe or the economic hardships are crippling many. But also because the possibility of enjoyment presupposes a process of collective mourning - an act requiring means or imagination that we don't have access anymore. However, the period of grief cannot be skipped unpunished. Many become more and more anxious and disappointed as the political and economic sphere pressures them to return as fast as possible to the previous life, that is a life of (self-)exploitation/addictive-consumerism ('reinvigorate the economy!' that is 'consume for the sake of society!' - these are the categorical imperatives of the post-pandemic constellation). Those who can't or don't want to return to these principles, and those who would need some time for collective grief and reflection, are left perplexed - they sense something is not right, but don't know exactly what. What are the consequences of the unspoken collective traumas on personal and social/cultural level?