Forum: The Corona A(e)ffects: radical affectivities of dissent and hope

Lateral invites proposals for contributions to a Forum entitled “The Corona A(e)ffects: Radical Affectivities of Dissent and Hope.”

Abstract proposals of 250 words due July 31, 2020

Full submissions of 2000–3000 words due November 30, 2020


The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic and the social distancing measures adopted to tame it have brought into stark relief the structural inequalities underpinning the world as ‘we’ve known it’ as inflected by race, class, gender, sexuality, ability and age. Pernicious narratives of the affordabilities of ‘waiting’ during the pandemic do not but reproduce these dynamics. Contra statements that the virus spares no one and hits indiscriminately, emerging analysis and statistics show how the deadliness of the virus is far more dramatic in those places and among those populations who carry etched onto their bodies the painful legacies of Western colonialism, slavery, racism, patriarchy, and structural violence.

With the global economy grinding to a halt, with millions of jobs lost and under the pressure of an encroaching global economic recession, many governments have been recently looking into ways to resume the chains of production and consumption, to go back to a same old ‘normality.’ While we share the nostalgia for the actual and potential caring and sensual touch, feel, and proximity that the pandemic has been taking away from us, as Paul Preciado evocatively underlines in The Losers Conspiracy (2020), emerging calls for a ‘return to normality’ evoke—we contend—largely obnoxious affectivities and dangerous material consequences (Wendy Brown 2020). Rather, inspired by the emerging critiques and responses by black, indigenous, feminist, and queer academics, we look at the normality interrupted as an opportunity to break through it. As suggested in Rethinking the Apocalypse: An Indigenous Anti-Futurist Manifesto, ‘[c]olonialism is a plague [and] capitalism is pandemic’, and we are, or can aspire to become, their ‘antibodies’.

With this call, we thus invite contributions expressing, triggering, fostering, nurturing ‘radical affectivities of dissent and hope’ which, in resisting the return to an even more unequal, securitized, and deadly ‘normality,’ can feed into ‘concrete utopias’ (Bloch 1959) for remaking worlds grounded in radical empathy and interdependence. Here we take Christina Sharpe’s (2016) call for the personal, the emotive, and affective experiences of existence in the face of terror, death, and disaster as crucial for our understanding of the pandemic and for imagining the future. Furthermore, we embrace her scholarly engagement with the multiplicity of orthographic and linguistic repertoires as an antidote to detached, positivist, and epistemological approaches that continue to characterize much of contemporary scholarship. We also particularly welcome approaches that privilege ‘emotional intimacy’ (Pratt and Rosner 2012) and ‘radical empathy’ (Lee 2015) as modes of witnessing people’s experiences and lived worlds.

Against this background, we seek contributions rooted in specific contexts and experiences, but which bear the potential of speaking to broader audiences. In particular we invite reflections around the following questions:

How do we evoke and make use of multiple emotional registers—hope, fear, delirium, rage, love, desire—to think through and after the pandemic?

How do we pursue radical collective organizing during and in the aftermath of the current pandemic, in conditions of social distancing?

How do we make each other’s struggle visible? How can we think of radical empathy to imagine and build concrete utopias?

What can we learn from past mobilizations undertaken in conditions of precarious public health or highly securitized public spaces?

What repertoires of contestation can we mobilize to build radical intersectional solidarities—whether local and/or transnational?

Lateral Forums are imagined as tools for conversation, education, and agitation and as such should be written in accessible prose. We particularly encourage contributions that are innovative, experimental, and interdisciplinary. We are interested in scholarly written work, essays, letters, and poetry, as well as in multi-media contributions, sound and video recording, music and radio soundbites. Media-rich submissions are encouraged. Authors may be individual academics, journalists, artists, activists, or community members, or collaborations. The forum as a whole will be anonymous peer-reviewed but individual contributors need not be traditional academics. Compensation for authors is not available at this time.

Submissions should be sent to Guest Editors Mattia Fumanti and Elena Zambelli at []. Should you wish to talk an idea for a submission through, please email with the subject “Forum Inquiry” in the title.

Abstract proposals of 250 words due July 31, 2020
Full submissions of 2000–3000 words due November 30, 2020

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