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The 2020 paradox

A multisystem crisis in search of a comprehensive response

Aleida Azamar Alonso and Carmen Maganda Ramírez

In most of the world, we follow a production model based on economic premises from the middle of the nineteenth century, including processes of accumulation, monopolization, and privatization of a territory’s common goods and of life itself, in order to guarantee the reproduction of capital. International regulations and laws that protect nature are mostly limited to reaction and repair of environmental damages caused by anthropocentric activities in the most vulnerable and impoverished nations in the world but do not o􀄞 en question the damage to populations, especially indigenous peoples and their ancestral territories. Latin America exemplifies this, given that the region has experienced a series of political, economic, environmental, and now health crises as it has become the epicenter of the current COVID-19 pandemic (Pan American Health Organization, PAHO, 2021).

Open access

Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

The American continents have become one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistically, it is the world region which has been impacted the most by the pandemic. By August 3, 2021, over two million people have been confirmed to have died from COVID-19, which represents roughly half of the total number of confirmed global deaths from the disease (Statista, 2021). Moreover, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) estimates that the economies of this region will contract by 5.3% in 2021, which will plunge almost 30 million inhabitants of this world region into poverty (ECLAC, 2021).

Open access

Carlos A. Rodríguez Wallenius

English Abstract: This article analyzes the extractivist and dispossession modalities in the Mexican neodevelopmental proposal to face the multiple crises accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the qualitative narrative method applied to social processes, four infrastructure and extractivist megaprojects are analyzed. Neodevelopmental policies of the current government insist on carrying out works as a strategy to create jobs, reactivate the economy, and promote well-being, especially for the southeast region with high rates of socioeconomic inequality. The findings point to an increase in investment and job creation and a rejection by various communities and organizations that consider that their ways of life are being threatened by the efforts of the neodevelopmental government to build megaprojects before and during the pandemic.

Spanish Abstract: Este artículo analiza las modalidades extractivistas y de despojo en la propuesta neodesarrollista mexicana para enfrentar las crisis múltiples acentuadas por la pandemia de la COVID-19. Con el método cualitativo narrativo aplicado a procesos sociales, se analizan cuatro megaproyectos de infraestructura y extractivistas. Las políticas neodesarrollistas del gobierno actual insisten en realizar obras como una estrategia para crear empleos, reactivar la economía y fomentar el bienestar, especialmente para la región sureste con altos índices de desigualdad socioeconómica. Los hallazgos señalan un incremento en la inversión y en la generación de empleos pero también un rechazo de varias comunidades y organizaciones que consideran que sus formas de vida están siendo amenazadas frente a los esfuerzos del gobierno neodesarrollista por construir megaproyectos antes y durante la pandemia.

French Abstract: Cet article analyse les modalités extractivistes et de dépossession incluses dans la proposition néo-développementaliste mexicaine afin de faire face aux crises multiples accentuées par la pandémie de Covid-19. Avec la méthode narrative qualitative appliquée aux processus sociaux, quatre mégaprojets d’infrastructures et d’extraction sont analysés. Les politiques néo-développementalistes du gouvernement actuel insistent sur la réalisation de travaux comme stratégie pour créer des emplois, réactiver l’économie et promouvoir le bien-être, en particulier pour la région du sud-est qui connaît des taux élevés d’inégalités socio-économiques. Les résultats indiquent une augmentation des investissements et de la création d’emplois, mais aussi un rejet de la part de diverses communautés et organisations qui considèrent que leurs modes de vie sont menacés par les efforts du gouvernement néo-développementaliste pour construire des mégaprojets avant et pendant la pandémie.

Open access

Edith Miriam García Salazar and Mario Enrique Fuente Carrasco

English abstract: This article addresses the category of ecological-distributive conflict from The Global Environmental Justice Atlas project to explain the emergence of environmental justice movements as a response to a certain distribution of pollution burdens or access to environmental resources. The theoretical approach addresses environmentalism of the poor and adds a historical review to understand such an existing paradox. The empirical work was carried out in the Valle del Mezquital, where the discharge of wastewater generated in the Metropolitan Area of the Valle de Mexico presents a paradoxical situation: some farmers perceive the reception of contaminated water as positive. The analysis includes a reflection on the criteria for evaluating conflict since the emergence of COVID-19.

Spanish abstract: Este artículo retoma la categoría de conflicto ecológico-distributivo del proyecto The Global Environmental Justice Atlas para explicar la emergencia de movimientos de justicia ambiental como una respuesta ante determinada distribución de las cargas de la contaminación o en el acceso a los recursos ambientales. El planteamiento teórico aborda el ecologismo de los pobres, más una revisión histórica para comprender tal paradoja. El trabajo empírico se llevó a cabo en el Valle del Mezquital, cuyo vertimiento de aguas residuales generadas en la Zona Metropolitana del Valle de México presenta una situación paradójica a la categoría señalada: algunos campesinos perciben como positiva a la recepción de agua contaminada. El análisis incluye una reflexión de los criterios de valoración del conflicto a partir de la emergencia del COVID-19.

French abstract: Depuis le projet The Global Environmental Justice Atlas, la catégorie de conflit écologique et distributif propose d’expliquer l’émergence de mouvements de justice environnementale comme une réponse à une certaine répartition des effets de la pollution ou à l’accès aux ressources environnementales. Dans la Vallée du Mezquital, le déversement des eaux usées de la Zone métropolitaine de la Vallée de Mexico présente une situation paradoxale par rapport à ce qui a été signalé dans le projet mentionné : certains paysans perçoivent comme positive la réception d’eau polluée. Les apports de l’écologisme des pauvres, ainsi qu’une révision de l’histoire permettent de comprendre ce paradoxe. La question de savoir si l’émergence du Covid-19 peut modifier les critères d’évaluation de ce conflit est également examinée.

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Radio Tsinaka en pandemia

Comunicación contra el despojo y por la vida

Ana Laura Salgado Lázaro, Jéssica Malinalli Coyotecatl Contreras, and Yeyectzin Moreno Del Angel

En abril de 2020, circularon rumores de casos de contagio por el nuevo coronavirus (COVID-19) en la cabecera del municipio de Cuetzalan del Progreso, en la Sierra Nororiental de Puebla, México. La información sobre kokolis-covid (como se nombró en náhuatl), inundaba los medios locales, las redes sociales, de la misma forma que los medios nacionales e internacionales. Como emisora comunitaria en San Miguel Tzinacapan, una comunidad del municipio de Cuetzalan, entendimos esta enfermedad como una nueva crisis a la que teníamos que hacer frente. Nuestro papel como medio de comunicación surgió en respuesta a otras crisis socioambientales, como la de los proyectos de muerte de la industria extractiva en escala global (Acosta & Brand, 2018; Hernández Hernández, 2018).

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Freed from Sadness and Fear

Politics, COVID-19, and the New Germany

Michael Meng and Adam R. Seipp

This article argues that we are witnessing the possible emergence of a Germany confident in the strength of its rational and democratic approach to governance. Thinking about this development through Baruch Spinoza’s insights into the centrality of reason to democracy, we suggest that Germany has responded to its past in a salutary manner by building a rational and responsible democracy. Few recent events illustrate this transformation more clearly than Germany’s reaction to the covid-19 pandemic.

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Museums and the Pandemic, One Year On

Some Reflections on Academic Resilience

Joanna Cobley

Written as notes from the field, this article explores the overlaps between researcher development and the idea of academic resilience within the museum and heritage studies community. During a climate of uncertainty and rapid change, it argues that alongside the academic literature, positive psychology methods transfer well into the researcher development space. Methods involved informal email conversations with museum and heritage practitioners united by how COVID-19 and border lockdown presented new opportunities to connect, share ideas, and rethink. Presented as short narratives, these findings show how researchers and practitioners in northern Europe, the United Kingdom and Canada share similar concerns to those in the southern hemisphere about climate change, equity, well-being, resilience, and sustainability. These narratives highlight the importance of encouraging critical engagement, finding ways to traverse time zones that build international networks and provide leadership opportunities for researchers at any level.

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The Nuclear/Nuclear Family

Moralities of Intimacy under COVID-19

Petra Tjitske Kalshoven


During the COVID-19 lockdown, as households were kept separate in a bid to contain the coronavirus, morally underpinned dynamics of fission and fusion occurred, privileging the ‘nuclear family’, which is taken here in two senses: the conventional social unit of a couple and their children, on the one hand, and the togetherness promoted by the nuclear industry in North West England, on the other. Whilst Sellafield's Nuclear family fused with its host community in an outpouring of corporate kindness and volunteering, singles bereft of nuclear families were fissioned off from social life, which led to a corrective debate in the Netherlands. Drawing out analogies from a modest comparative perspective, I posit the nuclear family as a prism affording insights into the corporate, governmental and personal management of intimacy.

Open access

A politicized ecology of resilience

Redistributive land reform and distributive justice in the COVID-19 pandemic

Jonathan DeVore

Brazil has endured multiple political, economic, and environmental crises—and now the COVID-19 pandemic—which have drawn social inequalities into razor sharp relief. This contribution analyzes the resilience of rural families facing these crises in southern Bahia. These families have benefited from various redistributive policies over the years, including redistributive land reforms (RLRs), conditional cash transfers (CCTs), and recent emergency aid (EA) payments related to the pandemic. Each (re)distributive approach involves different notions of distributive justice informed by competing background theories of “the good,” which hold implications for concepts of resilience. Drawing on long-term research with RLR communities in Bahia, this article considers the gains achieved by different redistributive programs. Families who acquired land through RLR projects appear more resilient, especially in the face of crisis.

Open access

The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Reconfigurations of Domestic Space in Favelas

Brief Reflections on Intimacies and Precariousness

Carolina Parreiras


This article aims to reflect on the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic changed how experiences of intimacy occur with a specific focus on the domestic relations of women living in favelas in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In contexts marked by precariousness and by the everyday difficulty of cohabitation in spaces that are characterised as small and with little infrastructure, the pandemic retraces the forms of co-existence, modifying the ways in which intimacies are built and experienced. The perspective adopted takes into account the ways in which the pandemic creates, recreates and intensifies relationships of vulnerability that not only include prevention of the virus, but changes to domestic space and women’ private lives.