The Covid-19 pandemic amongst many things has emerged as a social crisis whose costs are unequally distributed due to the profit-seeking and individualizing structure of neoliberalism. For the invisibles living at the blind spot of our societal imagination, the juxtaposition of the crisis with an absentee state has meant intensification of, rather than a divergence from, social exclusion.
In the wake of this, civic associations working with local communities stepped in to extend aid to those hit hardest amid the pandemic. Our preliminary insights from collaborative ethnographies in London, Mumbai and Paris revealed that the ways activists keep their interlocutors safe and engaged have made a greater impact: it paves for hope harbouring. By intervening in various ways ranging from supplying food parcels to befriending, these associations created conditions in which the affect of hopefulness flourished for their interlocutors. Through these everyday solidarities, associations have averted the possibilities of individual alienation thereby opening an indispensable channel of hope.
Turning the gaze to the linkage between everyday activism and hope can challenge the emphasis on anxiety and fear, which arguably underpin the experiences of neoliberalism and the crisis brought by it. It aids in building the political imagination of the socially excluded by creating avenues for belonging, social mobility and ultimately, citizenship.
Khushboo Srivastava (Indian Institute of Technology–Bombay, India) and Öznur Yardımcı (University of York, UK)
For more on Antipode’s “Conjunctural Insurrections” series – an experiment to amplify voices often unheard and invisibilised in politics, daily life, and academic discourse – see https://antipodeonline.org/2020/06/23/conjunctural-insurrections/