Introduction

The Great Equalizer? At the Deadly Intersections of COVID-19
A Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Virtual Roundtable

This Virtual Roundtable brings together an international team of social scientists, community researchers and social activists to study and compare how the COVID-19 pandemic interacts with underlying structures of marginalization in different political-national contexts, namely, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, India, UK and US.  

The speed and force with which COVID-19 spread across the globe caught governments and health experts unprepared. Initial measures implemented by governments of all political stripes were based on the premise that the pandemic would be 'an equalizer' with similar impact across the population. However, this assumption fell apart immediately as infection and death rates revealed the disproportionate impact on communities marginalized by race, class, age, gender, religion, sexuality, etc. In the US, for example, it was elderly, Black, Latino and Indigenous communities that were hardest hit and hate crimes escalated against Asians (CNN, May 8, 2020; The Washington Post, May 26, 2020); meanwhile in India, Dalits, Muslims and migrant workers from rural communities were devastated (BBC, May 20, 2020; The Conversation, May 20, 2020).

These examples underscore the need to understand exactly why, where and how the pandemic intersects with underlying socio-economic structures in the research sites, and the global linkages between them. The task is taken up in this project.  Drawing on the interdisciplinary expertise and community activism of the research team, our goal is to build a conceptual framework to study the social effects of COVID-19 and map out its intersections with national and global structures of power. The researchers will also develop policy recommendations to counter the pandemic's deepening of social divides.

 

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