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The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed and sharpened local and global racial inequalities and injustices.
The disproportionate impact on racialised minorities in Europe and the US is starkly evident in the staggeringly higher proportion of rates of infection and deaths (in the UK, over 90% of doctors), of households losing jobs and income and of targeting by police under new laws. It is evident in the rise of racial attacks experienced by Asians globally and, increasingly, other minorities, as well as the inaction of governments across the world to tackle the threat of the virus to those incarcerated in border camps, prisons and state detention centres.
At this roundtable event, under the shadow of the death of George Floyd, an internationally renowned group of speakers will consider the racialized dimensions of COVID-19 through the lens of international law and global capitalism; nationalisms and the politics of belonging; public health, risk, illness and mortality; and explore its socio-economic and political consequences for different communities.
- Matiangai Sirleaf is a critical voice in global public health law and she will explore COVID-19 and the racialization of diseases and examine international responsibility in the context of epidemic and pandemic diseases.
- Gargi Bhattacharyya will speak on the racialised violence of neglect.
- Nira Yuval-Davis will discuss COVID-19 in relation to those of us who belong, who have citizenship status and claims of entitlement, and those who have no such claims and rights and are either abandoned to starve and/or are locked down in detention camps and other forms of incarceration.
- Sivamohan Valluvan will explore how racial nationalisms will shape to claim the COVID-19 fall-out, focusing on the politics of bordering, defensive conceptions of public health and welfare, and wider anti-China positioning.
- Vivian Shaw will think through the racial dimensions of risk, putting together the distinct but interrelated issues of the racialized dimensions of illness and mortality for Black, Latinx, and Pacific Islander communities and anti-Asian racism.
- Colin Clark will discuss research and activist work on the socio-economic impact and political consequences of COVID-19 on Glasgow-based Roma communities from central and Eastern Europe in the context of racisms and actions required to challenge them pre-, during and post-COVID-19.
Gargi Bhattacharyya is Professor of Sociology at the University of East London. Her recent books include Rethinking Racial Capitalism (Rowman and Littlefield, 2018) and Crisis, austerity and everyday life (Palgrave, 2015).
Colin Clark teaches Sociology at the University of the West of Scotland. His research and political activism is in the broad fields of Romani, Migration and Refugee Studies. He is a Trustee of Romano Lav (Roma Voice) and a Director of the Coalition of Racial Equality and Rights. He also acts as an adviser to the Scottish Human Rights Commission, the Traveller Movement and the Advisory Council for the Education of Romanies and other Travellers.
Vivian Shaw is a researcher, educator, and bagel enthusiast from New York. She earned her PhD in Sociology from the University of Texas at Austin and is currently a College Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University. She is completing a book about how the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster laid the political groundwork for the emergence of anti-discrimination social movement networks. Vivian has published in Critical Asian Studies and her work is forthcoming in Radical History Review.
Matiangai Sirleaf is an Associate Professor of Law at the University Pittsburgh School of Law. She will join the University of Maryland School of Law faculty as a Professor of Law effective July 1, 2020. Her work focuses on remedying the accountability and responsibility gaps that exist in international law. Her most recent law review article is the Responsibility for Epidemics, 97 Tex. L. Rev. 285-351 (2018). The University of Pittsburgh awarded Professor Sirleaf the Chancellor's Distinguished Research Award in 2019.
Sivamohan Valluvan is Assistant Professor in Sociology at the University of Warwick. He is the author of the recently published, The Clamour of Nationalism (Manchester University Press).
Nira Yuval-Davis is Professor Emeritus, Honorary Director of the Research Centre on Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB) at the University of East London. She has been President of the Research Committee 05 (on Racism, Nationalism, Indigeneity and Ethnic Relations) of the International Sociological Association, founder member of Women Against Fundamentalism and Social Scientists Against the Hostile Environment. Books include The Politics of Belonging (2011) and Bordering (2019). She has recently won a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship on Climate Change and the Politics of Belonging.