Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Acta Academica]]> vol. 53 num. 2 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Pandemic politics - an introduction</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>Politicising 'COVID-19': an analysis of selected ZANU-PF officials' 2020-2021 media statements on the pandemic in Zimbabwe</b>]]> This paper examines the politicisation of COVID-19 in Zimbabwe through discourse analysis of selected media statements released by Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) officials on the COVID-19 pandemic between March 2020 and February 2021. Theoretically, the paper employs Foucault's theory of biopower to interpret the state-citizen power relations that surfaced in the Zimbabwean government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It argues that the ZANU-PF-led government used COVID-19 as an excuse to pursue its political interests. This is politics that protected ZANU-PF's social, political and economic interests by using COVID-19 as an excuse to pulverise various forms of opposition. The argument advanced herein is that while the implementation of the lockdown in Zimbabwe was necessary to save lives, one of its consequences was the protection of self-interests through selective application of lockdown regulations and the passing of laws to silence critics. This resulted in the prohibition of political gatherings, arbitrary arrests, labelling and name-calling of the opposition and the West by ZANU-PF officials who were safeguarding their party's waning support resulting from their mismanagement of the pandemic. <![CDATA[<b>Conspiracy theories and pandemic management in Africa: critical reflections on contexts, contradictions and challenges</b>]]> The Coronavirus pandemic, though primarily a health issue, has had significant social, economic and political implications across the world. There are reasons to believe that some of the changes occurring are likely to be permanent even in a post-pandemic world, and there are even suggestions that the world may be entering a phase in which pandemics become recurrent. Making sense of all that the pandemic has brought has by no means been easy, even for scientists who have had to review and revise their claims as new discoveries about the virus are made. One of the fallouts of the pandemic has been a proliferation of conspiracy theories about the origin of the virus, as well as efforts to contain it. Summed up, these theories of various shades allege that certain powerful forces are behind the pandemic, in pursuit of some narrow ends that range from the political to the religious. In this paper, I analyse conspiracy theories and the motivations behind them. Situating conspiracy theories within the pandemic, I argue that they are best understood not within the framework of a single theory but by an understanding of how diverse motivations generate different, even contradictory conspiratorial accounts. I argue that whereas conspiracy theories have become a feature of modern society, and have been amplified in the age of technology, they have low credibility value in explaining the pandemic, while having significant implications. I also argue that if left unchecked, conspiracy theories have the capacity to further undermine governments' capacity to respond to big crises in Africa in the future. I conclude that conspiracy theories are best managed in a pandemic through consistent, transparent engagement rooted in trust-building between the people and governments, especially in Africa. <![CDATA[<b>Democracy in crisis</b>]]> In this article I submit that the pandemic politics of the COVID-19 crisis have unmasked the inadequacies of existing representative democracies. Mixing the experiences and responses of various democracies and thinkers to this crisis, particularly from India and South Africa, I argue that a minimally functioning democracy must do two things at least: ensure the health and well-being of citizens and the equal means competitively to select prudent, empathetic and courageous leaders. For this, I suggest, we need a politics that allows us to express and assess our needs, and determine who is best placed to represent us in responding to these needs, all in non-dominating conditions. To this end, the article also proposes and defends four institutional reforms that would enable a dynamic, anti-oligarchic form of democracy to consistently empower the least powerful and keep elites properly in check. <![CDATA[<b>Something eventful this way comes: on pandemics, events, and capitalism</b>]]> Existentially and conceptually the disruptive wake of COVID-19 is different from the kind of problems the global community has weathered in the past. My article draws on Alain Badiou's notion of an "event" - something unpredictable in its local specificities and radically open in terms of its possible effects-to explore the ramifications of the pandemic. Badiou's approach is distinctive in that it explores different kinds of social disruption and can help us grasp whether the pandemic might carry the seeds of a revolution. I explore the disruptive effects of COVID-19 by first defining Badiou's notion of events, and then examine whether COVID-19 fits this definition. I argue that although the current pandemic does not satisfy all Badiou's criteria, it nevertheless may precipitate an event because of the peculiar way it disrupts contemporary capitalism. <![CDATA[<b>Taking ideology seriously in the time of plague: insights versus distractions</b>]]> This article argues that insights from ideology theory shed valuable light on the political aspects of COVID-19 and help understand and categorise policy responses to it. Much of the debate on the politics of COVID-19 has been dominated by questions concerning populism, but this article contends that this is not a fruitful direction for understanding current developments. The argument advanced here is that populism is a hollow and incoherent ideological category and so does not provide a suitable departure point to explore the ideological dimension of the pandemic. On the other hand, a critical engagement with the dominant ideology of neoliberalism goes a long way to explain different kinds of political fallout from COVID-19. While neoliberalism is unfit for the challenge posed by the virus, identifying the ideological underpinnings of the neoliberal approach may help to grasp its implications and formulate urgently needed alternatives. <![CDATA[<b>Resilience in a Kenyan informal settlement during the COVID-19 pandemic</b>]]> Informal settlements have been identified as locations both where the spread of COVID-19 has generally been slower than within the Global North and measures to restrain the pandemic have further intensified local peoples' marginality as income decreases without welfare or financial safety nets. In this paper, qualitative fieldwork is detailed which commenced in Korogocho, an informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya, immediately prior to national COVID-19 restrictions. This March 2020, pre-COVID phase of the fieldwork focused on a community-based project and the basis for resilience in transforming local lives. During the next 12 months of the pandemic fieldwork continued, exploring experiences and reactions to restraining policies. These findings reinforce concerns about the impact of COVID-19 related restrictions on marginalised peoples' income, food security, health, safety and gender-based violence. How the local people reacted to these effects highlights their creative resilience and adaptability. The paper concludes by examining the impact of, and responses to, the controlling measures on the social relationships and cohesion that underpins the community resilience. <![CDATA[<b>The healing-growth future of humanity: regenerative politics and crealectic care</b>]]> The 2020 Coronavirus pandemic served to remind us that despite our Cartesian fantasies of control, naturing nature (natura naturans) is still active in the form of an untamed Other. The dominant reaction on most political sides was anthropocentric: if we do something - a doing generally framed within the scope of technique and management - nature shall go back to the kind and submissive non-viral neutrality that we appreciate in 'her' as a supposedly passive resource for productivism. How could humanity - a pandemic species itself and not only metaphorically - be better attuned with the powers of naturing nature, in a posture of co-creation rather than of a reactive technocratic war against the non-periodic or 'monstrous' aspects of life? This question is a matter of philosophical health: the future of humanity does not depend on statistics and logistics, but on the possibility of a philosophical (re)generative politics, a trustful care for creative singularity rather than an anxious control and production of regularity. Humanity's collective health presupposes this reconciliation with naturing nature and the deployment of a global shared cosmology based on the creative healing-growth flux of originative creativity. This regenerative and life-affirming creative Real is here termed 'Creal', and we call 'crealectics' the generative philosophical health that favours healing growth. <![CDATA[<b>Shame, subjectivity, and pandemic productivity</b>]]> As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe, the lockdown, isolation, and quarantine restrictions which were put in place in many countries obliged many people to begin working from home. Concurrently, advice in the form of articles and social media posts emerged, urging people to use the 'opportunity' of isolation during the pandemic to engage in self-improvement activities or launch a business. In this paper, I consider the ways that the temporal collapse between private and work life can be seen to exacerbate the degree to which these productivity discourses played upon neoliberal conceptions of identity formation through self-commodification and optimisation. The discourses frequently used a combination of shame and the suggestion that productivity was an obligation to the community, as well as to the self, to justify themselves and make finding purchase to engage in a critique of the broader structural issues at play more rhetorically difficult.