As part of Mada al Carmel’s ongoing lecture series, “Politics in the time of Coronavirus”, researcher Ahmad Mahmood of the Hebrew University has given a lecture examining how Palestinians are represented during pandemics. Focusing on the local history of Haifa, Mahmood draws a comparison between the current Coronavirus pandemic and a Cholera outbreak which befell the city in 1911, when Palestine was under Ottoman rule. He argues that the history of diseases in Palestine has not been sufficiently studied in Arabic-language scholarship, thus leaving a knowledge gap in which non-Arabic sources predominate, with those sources often drawing on Orientalist stereotypes when describing Arab community responses to disease.



As part of Mada al-Carmel’s new lecture series entitled ‘Politics in the time of Coronavirus’, Khaled Anabtawi of the Geneva Graduate Institute has given an online presentation on the works of sociologist Zymunt Bauman. Focusing on Bauman’s works Liquid Love and Liquid Fear, Antabawi explains Bauman’s rejection of the term ‘postmodernity’, in favour of his own term ‘Liquid Modernity’ to describe our current era. Bauman argues that as human beings, our greatest fear is the fear of death, but that in the modern era this ‘solid’ fear has been obscured, and is thus left to manifest indirectly in everyday anxieties and minutiae.

This state of ‘liquid fear’ is much harder for societies to develop effective coping mechanisms for, thus prompting an increasingly individualistic turn. Bauman sees the emergence of ‘liquid fear’ as being linked to the emergence of Neo-liberal practices of governance, characterised by the withdrawal of the state from public life and the expansion of the marketplace. Anabtawi argues that the Coronavirus pandemic is an opportunity for us to examine how Neo-liberal governance has privatised our fears, and has weakened our sense of solidarity with those around us.

Click here to view the lecture on YouTube (Arabic only).