Popular discourse over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic has emphasized its “unprecedented” nature, but a deep history of public…
In recent years, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have taken steps to constrain the ability of users to share or amplify racist discourse on their platforms. However, Bharath Ganesh argues, by limiting the focus of their efforts to only the most egregious forms of racist discourse, the platforms may embolden broader networks of extremists to levy less obvious, but equally pernicious forms of racist discourse.
In the wake of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, the role of social media in propagating extremism was once again under scrutiny. However, as Deana Rohlinger's research demonstrates, stronger moderation policies alone would fail to account for the many ways that users express political beliefs through online forums. Instead, she argues that additional direct interventions like political bias training are necessary to both protect against extremism and encourage democratic participation.
In her contribution to the “Ways of Water” series, marine environmental historian Hayley Brazier invites readers to explore ocean “ooze,” the complex and mysterious content of layers of the ocean floor. Delving into the history of ooze-related discourse, she draws together the interests of a wide range of audiences in the question of the murky depths, from science fiction writers to telegraph cable engineers. In bringing the substance of the ocean floor more to light, Brazier encourages us to reflect on how we define unknown or less visible spaces on the planet as alien, and what might be the stakes of that process.
Exploring the relationship between water and stone in underground aquifers, in this installment of the “Ways of Water” series, Andrea Ballestero shows how binary models used in water management fail to account for the more fluid realities of natural resources. Using this example, Ballestero questions the distinction often made by systems that extract these resources between that which is “lively” and that which is “inert”—where substances that lie beneath the earth are viewed as sitting there, quietly waiting for governments and corporations to extract them and put them to use, frequently for profit. She proposes that techno-legal devices, such as models used to support resources extraction, can also inspire new questions, and ultimately, a new, and more liberatory, politics of water.
Jih-Fei Cheng and Claudia Garriga-López explore the importance of radical care work and the activism of queer and trans people of color in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. Emphasizing the approach of “intravention,” or the pro-health and care actions of communities themselves the most at risk, Garriga-López and Cheng shed light on the deep community health work of protest, often underemphasized in discourse and the lauding of mutual aid efforts. They affirm the need for a broad movement to achieve liberation from institutional and socially sanctioned violence and show the need for radical and inclusive coalition-building to promote community health.
Danya Glabau examines the consequences of school closures for families, drawing out how two older and interlinked crises of the family are exacerbated by the pandemic: the crisis of the privatization of the family and the crisis of patriarchy within it. By looking at schools, daycare, and families as integral and integrated parts of the social safety net in the United States, Glabau argues that under pandemic circumstances (as with many disasters) families are largely expected to take care of themselves, relying on their own highly strained resources. Reflecting a larger pattern, women are frequently expected to take on the majority of added caretaking roles, labor that remains underfunded and invisible.
Madoka Fukuda examines what happened when Taiwan’s early and successful efforts to control the spread of Covid-19 got caught up in international politics. For more than seven decades, the People’s Republic of China has regarded Taiwan as a renegade province, and since 1972 it has gradually won international recognition of its claim to be the only representative of China in the UN and other international organizations. Fukuda shows how the dispute blocked Taiwan from sharing information on its strategies for dealing with the pandemic in public international forums. However, at the same time, links between Taiwan and its democratic allies have been strengthened as the Taiwan model has shown how states can control the pandemic without compromising democratic principles.
Writing for the “Ways of Water” series, Oviya Govindan reflects on the conflicts that fishers face when their fishing waters become increasingly polluted. Ethnographically attempting to “follow the fish,” Govindan finds that narratives about fish are intrinsically narratives about water, toxicity, and the moral and political economies of both together. As industrial pollution affects fishing waters in Ennore, some fisher-activists try to raise public awareness, hoping to provoke a reduction in contaminating policies. While these forms of resistance are familiar in several industrial contexts, Govindan calls attention to quieter forms of politics. This piece tells the stories of fishers living with industrial waters who are reluctant to draw attention to the pollution and suggest that these are rumors, and that the consumption of their fish poses no risks. Thinking with these conflicts, Govindan calls for a politics of water that attends not only to familiar modes of resistance, but also to the uneven, reluctant forms of actions that stake out ethical living in an already polluted world.
Mirka Martel and Allan Goodman argue that, despite setbacks caused by Covid-19, the flow of college and university students across borders is resilient and will continue to be a vibrant feature of global higher education. Drawing on knowledge and experience of the Institute of International Education, the authors make the case for this optimism based on current data and prior histories of how universities and international student flows rebounded after previous global health crises.