Stories of the impact of Covid 19 on inequalities in academia and beyond
When the Covid 19 pandemic first started spreading globally in spring 2020, it seemed it could be an “equalizing threat”: The virus affected people in various parts of the world, regardless of nationality, wealth, social standing. It quickly became clear, however, that the pandemic was anything but equalizing. Depending on their professions, housing situation and social environment, people could withdraw, to very different degrees, from social interactions that put them at risk. Medical data suggest that minority and already disadvantaged groups suffered a considerably larger percentage of infections and hospitalizations (cf. e.g. here). And it was not only the primary risk of illness that was not affecting people equally. The secondary effects of the pandemic have also had a significant impact on existing inequalities – such as the effects on caring duties and responsibilities, economic pressures, mobility restrictions, dependence on connectivity and digital devices, to name but a few.
This ICON symposium is somewhat different in nature from previous symposia. The aim is to collect and present a number of individual stories from the pandemic that help to illustrate some of its impacts on existing social inequalities and injustices. Our focus is on the various effects that the pandemic has had on the legal academy, and on scholars and scholarship. This includes the repercussions for parents and other caregivers (very often women) in academia of months without childcare or school, or with greatly reduced childcare and school. Academic journals in various fields have already pointed to the significantly reduced number of submissions by women (see e.g. here). A recent Editorial in ICON discusses the “unequal impact of the pandemic on scholars with care responsibilities” and asks what journals and others can do.
Of course, the unequal effects of the pandemic have arisen also in other areas: the transition into digital discussion formats – zoom, webinars and more – has removed access barriers for some, while it has erected new barriers for others. And the unequal effects of the pandemic have been differently felt and experienced by many scholars in various parts of the Global South, as well as along other important intersectional lines.
We are interested also in looking beyond academia, hearing about and examining through the lens of public law how the pandemic has affected social inequalities more broadly.
To that end, we invite abstracts for what should later become short thinkpieces (Covid stories) of 3000-5000 words. We encourage authors not to limit themselves to the traditional format for scholarly papers but to share their personal reflections and experiences. In that sense, we want to hear your stories of the pandemic, and the various ways in which it impacted your life, including your academic work and scholarship. Our plan is to curate this symposium with a view to presenting a diversity of perspectives and experiences, meaning that the selection of contributions will depend not solely on conventional academic qualities but also on a range of other considerations. Please send your abstracts of around 500 words to [email protected] before 1 October 2021.