Covid-19: The Intimacies of Pandemics

Covid-19: The Intimacies of Pandemics

This workshop is structured around two recent projects:

COVID-19: The Intimacies of Pandemics, is a special issue co-edited by Danai S Mupotsa and
Moshibudi Motimele. In the midst of narratives that attempt to present the spread and
effects of COVID-19 as the 'great equaliser' that infects indiscriminately, the effects have in
fact been disproportionately shaped by gendered power relations. COVID-19 has indeed
disrupted the traditional ways in which technologies of capitalism, sexism, heterosexism,
homophobia, transphobia and racism generally operate. But what has remained constant is
the way that the effects and affects of these are compounded on those who suffer
disproportionately due to exploitative labour practices, unregulated informal economies,
sexual and gender-based violence, the burden of care work and domestic responsibilities.
Intimacy – generally understood as closeness and connectedness in a benevolent sense –
under lockdown took a major turn, which traversed unequally across the class divide. Black
working-class people found themselves suffocated not only by the virus but also by the
pernicious and elitist responses by state and other transnational actors. Intimacy then, read
as the forced closure of public space and intensification of proximate personal (often
overcrowded) space, under conditions of the pandemic, makes crude the feminist argument
that the personal has always been political.

From this perspective, intimacy refers to a way of organising the world, alerts us to the forms of relations in our public and private lives and shapes the ways we interact with forces of power. Many social practices, forms of intimacy and relations have been disrupted or forced to take new shapes. Health and economic
systems have been placed under new forms of pressure. It is urgent that we understand this
unprecedented pandemic that has reshaped all aspects of our lives from a feminist
perspective.This issue of Agenda signals the multiple forces affecting people's lives during
the COVID-19 planetary crisis.

The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconiliation (CSVR) has been working in
collaboration with , the African School of Economics in Benin and the Groupe de Recherche
et d'Analyse Appliquées pour le Développement (GRAAD) in Burkina Faso examines the
impact of COVID-19 on economies, social cohesion and governance in Africa. It seeks to
understand the way that COVID-19 and state responses to the pandemic have impacted on
the economic, social and political dynamics in South Africa, Benin and Burkina Faso. This
project also explores the most effective forms of communication for changing public
attitudes and behaviours and government actions in response to addressing these
challenges.The project questions dominant narratives regarding African experiences and
African state responses that undermine success stories. It seeks to provide an empirically
informed picture of how African states have responded to this crisis, along with its positive
and negative consequences for health, economies, governance and society. It shares these
insights and analysis through regular media engagements and scholarly publications and
through strengthening the community of practice within Africa's scientific community.

Agenda Feminist Media and the Centre for Violence and Reconciliation
Hybrid Workshop Programme:

1.30: Registration

14.00-14.30: Introduction & Framing

14.30-15.30: Panel: Agency and Symbolic Violence

  • Tendai Mangena (Great Zimbabwe University)
  • Hlengiwe Ndlovu (University of Zimbabwe)
  • Boikanyo Moloto (CSVR)


  • Amina Mwaikambo (CSVR)

15.30-16.30: Panel: Blackness and Personhood

  • Steven Rebello (CSVR)
  • Simamkele Dlakavu (University of Pretoria)
  • Moshibudi Motimele (University of the Free State)


  • Danai S Mupotsa (University of the Witwatersrand)

16.30-18.00: Launch, Agenda Special Issue, 'Covid-19:

The Intimacies of Pandemics"
There is limited space for the workshop in person. Please
RSVP to Boikanyo Moloto at
The workshop is a hydrid event. Please RSVP to for the link

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CSVR is a multi-disciplinary institute that seeks to understand and prevent violence, heal its effects and build sustainable peace at the community, national and regional levels.

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