Society & Covid-19 Working Group

 A working group on the social failures, contradictions and tendencies that have led to the current situation, committed to imagining ways of rethinking society coming out of this.  Themes to consider:  austerity, capitalism, neoliberalism, mobility, the state, space, gambling in real money casinos in sri lanka, the management and generation of disaster, the systematic assault on the very concept of “society,” imagination, and the future/future(s).   Historically and conceptually deep approaches are particularly welcome.  The project is meant to be generative and positive as well as diagnostic and critical.  We will seek to use a variety of platforms, media, genres, intellectual and creative idioms and languages, both utilizing and trying to understand their differently inflected potential.   

Participant list

  • Sadia Abbas, Rutgers University-Newark, English. She is the author of At Freedom’s Limit: Islam and the Postcolonial Predicament, and the novel, The Empty Room.  She is currently completing a co-edited (with Jan Howard of the RISD museum) volume on Shahzia Sikander’s art, working on her next novel and an academic book, Space in Another Time: An Essay on Ruins, Monuments and the Management of Modern Life, which focuses on modern Greece, postcolonial histories, the idea of Europe. migration and austerity.  She directs the multi-disciplinary and multi-media speaker series, Postcolonial Questions and Performances. 
  • Paul E. Amar, UCSB, Political scientist and anthropologist with affiliate appointments in Feminist Studies,  Sociology, Comparative Literature, Middle East Studies, and Latin  American & Iberian Studies. He currently serves as Director of the MA  and PhD Programs in Global Studies and Coordinator of the Global Security Studies Hub.  Before he began his academic career, he worked as a journalist in  Cairo, a police reformer and sexuality rights activist in Rio de  Janeiro, and as a conflict-resolution and economic development  specialist at the United Nations. His books include:  Cairo  Cosmopolitan(2006); New Racial Missions of Policing (2010); Global  South to the Rescue (2011); Dispatches from the Arab Spring (2013) and The Security Archipelago, which was awarded the Charles Taylor  Award for “Best Book of the Year” in 2014 by the Interpretive Methods  Section of the American Political Science Association.
  • Faisal Devji Professor of Indian History and Fellow of St. Antony’s College in the University of Oxford. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and Institute of Public Knowledge Fellow at New York University. Devji is the author of four books, Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity(2005), The Terrorist in Search of Humanity: Militant Islam and Global Politics(2009), The Impossible Indian: Gandhi and the Temptation of Violence (2012) and Muslim Zion: Pakistan as a Political Idea (2013).
  • Bill Fletcher Jr. Bill Fletcher, Jr. is the executive editor of; a past president of TransAfrica Forum; and a long-time trade unionist and writer. His most recent publication is the mystery novel, The Man who Fell from the Sky
  • Aslı Iğsız. Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. Her work examines cultural politics in relation to the management of alterity through the contexts within and about the Middle East, with a focus on Turkey. Her first book Humanism in Ruins: Entangled Legacies of the Greek-Turkish Population Exchange (Stanford University Press) was published in 2018. Currently she is working on two new book projects: one on the notion of civilization and related cultural politics, and another one on Unesco’s post-1945 cultural politics and initiatives to reform humanities curricula and to refute fascism and racism. Iğsız is also co-editor of the Middle East e-zine Jadaliyya’s Turkey page.
  • RA Judy, Professor of Critical and Cultural Studies in the Department of English at the University of Pittsburgh. He authored the ground-breaking book, (Dis)forming the American Canon: The Vernacular of African Arabic American Slave Narrative (1992). His latest book, Sentient Flesh (Thinking in Disorder/Poiēsis in Black) is forthcoming from Duke University Press in 2020.
  • Sangeeta Kamat. UMass-Amherst.  Education.  Research interests.  The impact of globalization on education – policies, actors, practices, institutions.  Analyzing education discourse in an anthropological framework – as cultural production of persons, groups, communities. Ethnographies of educational policy making.  Feminist research and discourse analysis.  Gender issues in Development Education and Social Movements.  
  • Phevos Kororos-Simeonides Goldsmiths, Forensic architecture program. Activist who has worked with refugee communities and anti-racist, no borders projects in Greece.
  • Biju Mathew, is Secretary, National Taxi Workers Alliance (AFLCIO),  a co-founder of India Civil Watch International (New York) and Lamakaan (Hyderabad). His political and intellectual work follows three vectors — neoliberalism, especially its four decades of  reorganization of work, diasporic right wings, especially Hindu nationalism and finally questions of internationalism, new left movements and political strategy. He is author of , Taxi! Cabs and Capitalism in New York City (Cornell, 2008) and several other popular and academic essays. He is Associate Professor of Information Systems and American Studies at Rider University, NJ. 
  • Qalandar Bux Memon, Editor of Naked Punch Review ( Assistant Professor at Forman Christian College Lahore. Currently working on oral histories of various resistance movements in Pakistan. 
  • Sean T. MitchellRutgers University-Newark, associate professor of Anthropology.. His ethnographically-based work focuses on the politics of inequality, particularly in Brazil. His work also touches on science and technology studies; race and ethnicity; war and violence; governance and citizenship; social movements; and the politics of expertise. His book,  “Constellations of Inequality: Space, Race, and Utopia in Brazil” (University of Chicago Press, 2017), won the 2018 Sergio Buarque de Holanda  Book Prize from the Latin American Studies Association Brazil Section.
  • Andrew Perrin, UNC, Sociology.  Director of the Institute for  the Arts and Humanities., Chapel Hill. His research focuses mostly on social and cultural elements of American politics including public opinion, deliberation, and the public sphere. Author, co-author, or translator of five books including most recently American Democracy: From Tocqueville to Town Halls to Twitter (Polity, 2014).
  • Raza Rumi, Director, Park Center for Independent Media, Ithaca College. Faculty, Cornell Institute for Public Affairs. Editor Naya Daur Media.  Raza has been the editor of Daily Times and The Friday Times in Pakistan. He also worked in the broadcast media as an analyst and hosted talk shows. Prior to his career in writing and journalism, Raza worked at the Asian Development Bank as a Governance Specialist, an administrator in Pakistan’s civil service and in Civil Affairs, United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Kosovo. Books include, Delhi by Heart: Impressions of a Pakistani TravelerThe Fractious Path: Pakistan’s Democratic Transition; and Being Pakistani: Essays on Arts, Culture and Society.
  • Shahzia Sikander, is a visual artist whose pioneering practice has brought historical Indo-Persian book arts into the forefront of contemporary art practice.   A MacArthur fellow, Sikander’s work can be viewed at 
  • Eleni Takou is Deputy Director and Head of Advocacy of the Greek NGO HumanRights360; her work is focused on migrant and refugee protection, hate crime and anti-racism advocacy.
  • Jini Kim Watson, NYU, English, Comparative Literature. Postcolonialism. Her teaching and research investigate the ways that postcolonial cultural production—literature, film, theoretical writings—have reckoned with ongoing questions of decolonization, national and global imaginaries, uneven development and political modernity. Her book The New Asian City (Minnesota UP, 2011) examined the rise of so-called “Asian Tiger” economies and metropolises through a lens attentive to colonial histories, national imaginaries and Cold War hegemonies. She has also co-edited a collected volume of essays with Gary Wilder on The Postcolonial Contemporary: Political Imaginaries for the Global Present (Fordham UP, 2018). Her current book project, Ruling Like a Foreigner, asks what literary representations of Cold War authoritarian regimes in Asia can tell us about the autocratic turn in the postcolonial world, as well as our current moment. 
  • Gary Wilder, CUNY. Professor in the Ph.D. Programs of Anthropology, with cross-appointments in History.  Director of the Committee on Globalization and Social Change []. Wilder’s research on the French empire, Francophone West Africa and the Caribbean, and Black Atlantic social thought is located at the intersection of historical anthropology, intellectual history, and critical theory (with special emphasis on Marxism, postcolonialism, and poststructuralism).He is the author of two monographs, Freedom Time: Negritude, Decolonization, and the Future of the World (Duke University Press, 2015) and The French Imperial Nation-State: Negritude and Colonial Humanism Between the World Wars (University of Chicago Press, 2005). In Spring 2018 he co-authored Theses on Theory and History, an open source digital publication, with Ethan Kleinberg and Joan Wallach Scott. He is co-editor of two books: The Postcolonial Contemporary: Political Imaginaries for the Global Present, with Jini Kim Watson (Fordham University Press, 2018) and The Fernando Coronil Reader: The Struggle for the Life is the Matter, with Mariana Coronil, Laurent Dubois Paul Eiss, Edward Murphy, David Pedersen, and Julie Skurski, (Duke University Press, 2019). He is currently completing a book entitled “Untimely History, Unhomely Times: On the Politics of Temporality and Solidarity” and in the middle of another manuscript provisionally entitled “After the Revolution, or More Abundant Life: Black Radical Humanism and the Atlantic World.”