A pandemic is not just a medical emergency – it is also a political, economic, and social crisis. It implies new challenges for democratic institutions and practices, for citizenship rights and human rights as some of the restrictions on civil liberties put in place by liberal and illiberal democracies may well outlive the coronavirus. This special issue explores some tensions and dilemmas of democracies faced with the current crisis. “Politics of the Coronavirus Pandemics” addresses questions like: Can we speak of a decline in politics during the pandemic? While states have been using the full gamut of their sovereign prerogatives, has the political (temporarily) faded in the face of, for example, “expertise”? What will be the lasting impact of the rule by administrative fiat, and of emergency powers put in place in many countries? What kinds of agenda and instruments of civic activism are likely to emerge given that courts are rarely in session and public protest not permitted due to distancing rules? What are the likely consequences of these reconfigurations for democracy, governance, and welfare systems in the global South and North?
© Chappatte in The International New York Times, www.chappatte.com
Today, we observe a renewed interest in the theme of decolonisation in three interrelated fields: in the academic world which opens new areas of research and teaching (e.g. decolonisation studies; decolonising the curriculum), in the practice of professionals and international actors who are revisiting their way of working, as well as in the vocabulary and activism of civil society targeting the remnants of colonial times such as street names, statues or museum objects. The renewed focus on decolonisation brings forth underlying issues such as the lingering of Eurocentrism, continued oppression of indigenous people, cultural relativism, the ongoing materiality of colonialism, the guilt of the West or, more generally, “the darker side of Western modernity”. While decolonisation has had a lasting impact on the political scene (with the decolonisation movements of the 1960s) and theoretically in the realm of academia, it lags behind in practice as processes, mentalities and epistemes are still permeated by “coloniality”. The present issue puts therefore decolonisation into historical perspective and provides fresh analytical perspectives on its epistemologies and methodologies as well as its practical application and consequences in various fields.
This issue has been coproduced by the Graduate Institute’s Department of International History and Politics and the Research Office. It also includes contributions from other research centres and departments of the Institute.
A Past That Keeps Questioning Us
Decolonisation: The Many Facets of an Ongoing StruggleReading time: 6 min
Varieties of DecolonisationReading time: 5 min
Decolonisation: Too Simple a Term for a Complicated HistoryReading time: 5 min
Decolonisation and RegionalismReading time: 5 min
Decolonising International PoliticsReading time: 5 min
Decolonising the GlobalReading time: 5 min
Decolonisation and International LawReading time: 5 min
Gender and DecolonisationReading time: 6 min
Decolonisation and HumanitarianismReading time: 4 min
Decolonisation and Global HealthReading time: 5 min
Decolonising EducationReading time: 4 min
Three Decolonial Questionings of the DigitalReading time: 5 min
Selected Publications from the Graduate Institute about Colonisation and DecolonisationReading time: 4 min
Soil is an essential component of the Earth's ecosystem. It contributes to and fulfills a wide range of environmental and societal functions such as food production, water filtering, carbon storage and the preservation of biodiversity essential to the survival of the human species. While soils have witnessed significant environmental degradation in recent decades, lands have been the object of increased economic competition and financial speculation. The commercial and financial scramble for land has never been more intense as transnational actors and governments such as the Chinese seek large scale bids for land in the Global South that have been likened to new forms of neocolonialism. The consequences of this double tension include the loss of biodiversity, floods, climate change, famines, forced migration and conflict.
It is the assumption of the present Dossier that issues such as large scale exploitation of land and natural resources, soil degradation, biodiversity, food security and climate change are closely interdependent and cannot be treated in isolation. Seeking to explore and better understand the interlinkages between the material degradation of soils and the increased extractive, commercial and speculative pressure on lands, the Dossier aims to address some of the broader stakes the Anthropocene is currently facing: How irreversible is the damage that has been caused to earth's soils? Have we reached a point of no return? How many people is the earth able to feed and for how long? Are we trapped in a Malthusian logic? How will climate change depend and interact with changing patterns of soil distribution and depletion? What is the impact of large scale deforestation and natural resource extraction on the environment, particularly the soils? What are the governance patterns and technological solutions emerging to address land depletion and scarcity? What are some of the cybernetic loops and mechanisms of autoregulation through which the earth reacts to human interference?