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Bullfighting in Southern France

A Dispatch from Arles

Duncan Wheeler


Drawing on ethnographic research among bullfighting professionals and audiences in Spain and France, this report assesses the current health of bullfighting in Arles as a means to grapple with broader questions surrounding the cultural and political standing of this increasingly controversial activity on both sides of the Pyrenees.

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Does Gender Play a Role?

A Gendered Frame Analysis of the Pandemic Skeptic Protests in Austria

Antje Daniel, Markus Brunner, and Florian Knasmüller


After the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, a heterogeneous protest movement emerged in Austria that managed to mobilize more than 20,000 people to protest against the prevention measures imposed by the government in February 2021. The preliminary results from the survey we conducted in January showed that an unusually large proportion of women participated in these protests. In this article, we aim at exploring the gendered aspects of the protests through the use of a frame analysis. Against the backdrop of an extensive public debate on the gendered ramifications of the pandemic, we also ask whether experiences of double burden were incorporated into the problem definition. We base our analysis on a mixed-methods approach that complements the results of a quantitative protest survey with qualitative interviews, social media analysis, and data from protest observations.

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Focusing on the Child's Best Interest and the Rejection of Protective Measures

Antifeminism and Pandemic Denial in the COVID-19 Pandemic

Rebekka Blum


This article shows how antifeminism manifested during the covid-19 pandemic and played an integrative role for pandemic-deniers. It first explains how antifeminism was understood and shows that antifeminist actors often used alleged concerns about child welfare to legitimize and morally enhance their own political views. Subsequently, the results of a systematic study of various antifeminist actors such as Birgit Kelle, Beatrix von Storch, Demo für Alle (Protest for all), and Eltern Stehen Auf (Parents Rise) from the pandemic denial spectrum are presented and compared to each other. Further analyses of the Querdenken protests make it clear that some narratives of antifeminist actors were also taken up by Querdenken members, and that in this way various alliances were able to emerge.

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Protests of Pandemic Skeptics in Germany and Austria

Antje Daniel, Anna Schwenck, and Fabian Virchow

Since early 2020, the covid-19 pandemic has unfolded as a global crisis that poses significant challenges to governments and societies.1 Governments have reacted quite variably, with policies ranging from strict lockdowns over a longer period of time to flexible approaches with restriction of freedoms at very low thresholds of intrusion into citizens’ rights.2 While the pandemic does not affect everyone equally, and some countries are more advanced in containing the virus than others, the sense of vulnerability and insecurity is widespread. In addition to the 6.5 million people who have died from covid-19 as of late August 2022, many more are affected by ongoing symptoms of long covid-19. Increased economic disparities and new forms of inequality only exacerbate the degree of uncertainty and the feeling that life is out of control.3 However, the popular yearning to regain control has not led to an unambiguous “desire for the state.”4 Rather, trust in governments has fluctuated in the wake of the pandemic. If there was a “rally around the flag” effect, it was certainly not found in every country.5 Even if support for government regulations and restrictions were prevalent within a state, it was not shared equally by different parts of the population. In several countries, the pandemic has also given rise to substantial protests against the restriction of civic, economic, and social liberties, often driven by fears of state surveillance, libertarian rebellion against state paternalism, and conspiratorial beliefs.6

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Mainstreaming the Radical Right?

The Ambiguous Populism of the COVID-19 Street Protests in Germany

Michael Neuber


In Germany, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to demonstrate against the government's measures to handle the covid-19 pandemic. These protests started in the spring of 2020. What makes these protests puzzling is their unusual heterogeneous political composition and ambiguous symbolism. This article argues that protesters used the pandemic (and calls for “freedom” from restrictions) to bridge left- and right-wing movement frames. Importantly, though, the amplification of radical right strands of populist discourse played a central role in this frame-bridging. These arguments are supported by a visual discourse analysis using photographs of demonstrators and protest materials (N = 212) taken at the Berlin “Querdenken” demonstration on 29 August 2020. The implications of these findings for the mainstreaming of right-wing politics are then discussed.

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Performances of Closeness and the Staging of Resistance with Mainstream Music

Analyzing the Symbolism of Pandemic Skeptical Protests

Anna Schwenck


Performances of closeness—showing one's uncovered face, physically touching others, rhythmic chanting combined with hand gestures, and collective singing and dancing—were central to pandemic-skeptical protests in Germany. This article shows that publicly performing such intercorporeal practices can become a political act when governments and health professionals promote physical distancing and mask mandates. Moreover, it analyzes how pandemic skeptics used both visual and auditive symbols of resistance against past dictatorships that are popular in Germany's dominant national narrative to legitimate their protest and stage “the people.” Protesters’ invocation of a new totalitarianism closely connects to fears revolving around the erosion of representative democracy in neoliberal times and the emergence of a digitalized world ruled by mega-corporations that is seen to be threatened by anonymity and isolation.

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A Peripheral Movement?

Querdenken in the Critical Public Discourse about the COVID-19 Pandemic

Thomas Kern, Dahla Opitz, Julian Polenz, Insa Pruisken, and Sarah Tell


This study analyzes the interplay between the public image and the self-image of the German Querdenken movement during the covid-19 pandemic. First, we reconstruct the public image of Querdenken with data from the newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Our findings reveal a multifaceted network of critical arguments against the government's public health measures during the crisis. Querdenken remained at the periphery of this newspaper discourse because it was mostly perceived as anti-democratic, particularistic, and irrational. Next, we compare this public image with Querdenken's self-image using the movement's press releases. Our analysis shows that Querdenken's supporters responded to public criticism by counter-labeling their critics as untrustworthy, conspiratorial, and corrupt. Our conclusion finds that due to its highly contentious “anti-science” and “anti-elite” approach, Querdenken failed to produce a positive “resonance” within the public sphere and developed only limited civil power.

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Religiosity, Spirituality and Conspiracy Theories

Empirical-Quantitative Analysis during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Germany

Carolin Hillenbrand and Detlef Pollack


To cope with the covid-19 pandemic, people not only relied on state measures and scientific knowledge, but also drew on the resources of religion. They may also have embraced conspiracy theories that sometimes led them to engage in protest behavior. Against this background, we address the following research question: “How are people's religiosity and spirituality related to their belief in covid-19 conspiracy theories in Germany?” We answer this question by conducting a theory-led empirical analysis. We apply quantitative methods based on primary data from a (non-representative) online survey that we carried out with 2,373 respondents in Germany between July 2020 and January 2021. The results show that belief in covid-19 conspiracy theories is positively correlated with the image of a punitive God, with exclusivist beliefs, and with private prayer—and negatively correlated with attendance at religious services. Moreover, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, and Jews have a lower affinity for conspiracy theories than not religiously affiliated people, while the opposite is true for Evangelicals.

Open access

Using Photovoice to Explore Migrant Women's Sociospatial Engagement in Diverse Local Urban Areas of Santiago, Chile

Carolina Ramírez


Framed in a project on conviviality and migration-led diversity in Santiago, Chile, this article presents visual narratives of neighborhood participation. Accounts of migrants’ public lives have turned to underlining mundane forms of conviviality and place-making. This visual essay shows how such dynamics can comprise a fertile terrain for public engagement in contexts of “crisis.” The account is based on a photovoice exercise developed by three long-established migrant women of different occupations, age, and nationalities during the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis that shaped the personal/public interface of their lives. I propose that photovoice, by endowing agency and producing situated knowledge, can illuminate migrants’ local engagement, making visible (creatively, descriptively, and symbolically) the connection between the personal and the public while counteracting dominant problem-based representations of migrants.

Open access

‘Out of touch’

University teachers’ negative engagements with technology during COVID-19

Jesper Aagaard, Maria Hvid Stenalt, and Neil Selwyn


In the wake of COVID-19, enthusiasm is growing for hybrid and other blended forms of teaching. Before celebrating the hybrid future of education, however, it is instructive to interrogate its hybrid presence. Accordingly, this article explores pedagogical challenges prompted by the pandemic pivot to online teaching. Analysing qualitative survey data from Danish university teachers (n = 488), we identify five critical stances towards educational technology: (1) technologies are fine when used correctly; (2) technical issues are a major obstacle; (3) hybrid teaching is overwhelming; (4) one's sense of students suffers online; and (5) students hide behind their screens. Based on these results, this article identifies two challenges for the hybrid future of education: the problem of presence and the webcam-related tension between surveillance and care.