Global Studies Association 2021 Online Colloquium: ECR/PGR Forum

5th November 2021 2-4pm (BST)

The rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus throughout the world has highlighted both global connectedness and inequalities. Global challenges faced by societies—including the climate crisis, the digital revolution, racial inequality, populism, urbanisation, the aging population, and isolation—have been thrown into sharp relief. Permeating all areas of human life, work and mobility, the pandemic continues to have a global impact, whether accelerating already existing processes, or presenting an opportunity for changing their course.


Kate Macintyre (University of Northampton): Conservation Crisis in sub-Saharan Africa and the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic can be seen all over the world and none more so than in sub-Saharan Africa.  This global crisis has manifested itself in glaringly obvious ways such as national lockdowns, ailing health systems and delayed vaccination programmes, international travel restrictions and leisure and hospitality business closures.  However, not so obviously, the pandemic appears to have exposed the precariousness of global conservation and exacerbated practices such as poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking both during and following the initial outbreak back in the beginning of 2020.  My research focuses on stakeholder perceptions of poaching and anti-poaching, but related conversations have uncovered multiple threats to preservation efforts ranging from increased subsistence poaching, decreased international travel, loss of tourism revenue, increased unemployment, decreased availability of international revenue all due to the breakout of the global pandemic.  This paper presents an overview of the positive and negative impact the pandemic has had and is still having on the conservation industry in sub-Saharan Africa and the implications for the preservation of biodiversity on the region.

Kate Macintyre is currently a PhD Researcher at the University of Northampton, having completed a BSc Business Computing in 2005 and an MA International Relations in 2018, also at Northampton.  Kate presented a paper based on her undergraduate dissertation, at the British Computer Society on her project titled the Internet for Visually Impaired Users for which she won the British Computer Society Best Student Award 2005.  Kate has lectured on Database Management, Basic computing Skills, Systems Analysis and Project Management at undergraduate level.  Kate is also a  Prince2 Project Management Practitioner.  Kate is undergoing a change in focus to follow her stronger research interests which are related to environmental and biodiversity conservation and has presented a paper entitled ‘Can local communities be the key to finding solutions to problems in the wildlife conservation world?’ at the University of Northampton as well as a three minute thesis presentation entitled ‘Women on the Frontline as Anti-poachers’, in relation to her current research.

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Elodie Rene (University of Northampton): Building alternative indicators of progress: going beyond GDP, technocracy and green washing

The Covid-19 crisis has revealed the unsustainability of our development model based on capital accumulation and economic growth. It has highlighted how fragile and vulnerable our industrial societies are when facing new global epidemiological challenges. Covid-19 impacts are just a foretaste of future disruption and much harsher crisis if we do not seriously take into account climate change and biodiversity loss. There is an urgent need to radically transform our development model towards sustainability. If the last three decades have been marked by a multiplication of discourses on green growth and sustainable development not much concrete action have been taken on the ground. Promise of green growth haven’t materialised. Global CO2 emission are still rising while biodiversity continues to erode at an alarming rate each year. Despite the severity of the global environmental crisis GDP growth is still the obsession of every single political leader. Economic growth is still presented as the main goal to pursue and GDP as the key indicator to measure progress and wellbeing. In the context of Covid-19, GDP growth is thus perceived as the best indicator to assess the efficacy of recovery policies. This situation is showing to which extent the blind pursuit of GDP growth has framed the regime of knowledge and the analytical framework of our modern industrial societies. Growth and capital accumulation have become the dominant social imaginary (S. Latouche) of both developed and developing countries. If academic research on alternative indicators of progress has grown significantly in recent years (D. Meda, F. Jany-Catrice, J. Gadrey), concrete and convincing experimentation on the ground remain to be seen. This paper is thus exploring under which socio-political conditions alternative indicators of progress can pave the way towards a post-growth sustainable society. That is to say a society where public health, social justice, education and environmental protection are prioritised over economic growth. We will firstly critically review existing alternative indicators of progress and then question the political dimension of setting-up new indicators. We will highlight the necessity to set up democratic process to collectively define alternative indicators in order to make sure there are adapted to local reality. 

Elodie was educated at the Institute of Political Studies in Paris and Lyon, and holds a degree in Chinese Mandarin from the East China Normal University. She has been working for large groups (Huawei), international law firms (UGGC), governmental organization (UBIFRANCE), international think tanks (Asia Centre) and engineering consulting firm (IED). From 2011 to 2013, she acted as the Beijing correspondent of the French Council of Investors in Africa, gaining an expertise on China’s “resources quest” in Africa. She has also acquired significant professional experience in the renewable energy sector across Asia and Africa. Since April 2017 she has been developing a scientific mediation project on the Anthropocene, GEO-SAPIENS, with the aim of creating bridges between academic researchers, artists, and civil society organizations interested in political ecology. Since 2019, she is undertaking a PhD at the University of Northampton (UK) on the strategic role of ecological indicators and digital tools for ecological transition policies.

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Chang Sun (University of Manchester): Rethinking Vaccine Diplomacy: Crises and Challenges for Developing Countries/Regions

The development and manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccines to some extent marked that we have moved forward into the next phase of the Covid-19 pandemic. If the bone of contention in the first phase was “who to blame”, in the second phase it may have been replaced by the question of “who can save”. Several countries, including China, Russia and the United States started their so-called vaccine diplomacy by donating vaccines to developing countries/regions such as Serbia, Taiwan, Algeria, etc. Media coverage as well as critical reviews in this issue have been around those countries that provide vaccines, while little attention has been paid to the recipient countries. What are the crises and challenges for these countries in the era of vaccine diplomacy? In my presentation I will try to answer this question by exploring the process and consequences of vaccine donation from the perspective of developing countries/regions. Serbia, for example, turns its crisis into an opportunity to enhance its diplomatic relationship with China and to improve its impact in Eurasia. Taiwan, on the other hand, chose to refuse Chinese vaccine as a sort of political gesture in search of further independence.

Chang Sun is currently a third-year PhD student in Chinese studies at the University of Manchester. She received her bachelor’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature from Beijing Language and Culture University (2017) and got a master’s degree in Cultural Studies from the Chinese University of Hong Kong (2018). Her primary research interests are visual culture in contemporary China, representation of minority groups in mass media and China’s post-socialist transformation. Now she is conducting a research about the representation of minority groups in Chinese independent documentary.

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Sarah Keirle (University of Manchester): Keystone: a sonic exploration of the challenges faced by past and present British wildlife

Keystone is a sonic exploration of the challenges faced by past and present British wildlife, from extinctions to reintroductions to adaptations. Every sound was created using recordings taken at Wildwood Trust, a centre for the conservation of British wildlife that features both past and present species, interspersed with interviews from zookeepers about the threats and hopes for these animals. This piece forms part of a practice-based project exploring the use of animal communication within the context of electroacoustic composition to create new sonic means for conservation awareness, public engagement, and nature connection. “We’ve got to learn how to live with things again – it’s not just our earth, our land… we’ve got to give them some space back, really.”

Sarah is an electroacoustic composer and PhD researcher based in Manchester, UK. She graduated from the University of Manchester in 2017 with a first class MusB (hons) in Music and the P.J. Leonard First Prize for Electroacoustic Composition, and completed an Advanced Diploma in Sound for Film, Games and TV at SSR in 2018. In 2019, she completed a Masters in Electroacoustic Composition and Interactive Media, with Distinction. Her works have been performed at the ICMC, EASTN-DC, Radio CASo, Reform Radio, BEAST FEaST, MANTIS, ArtHouse Jersey, Diffrazioni Festival, Espacios Sonoros, TAma Festival, Ecos Urbanos, NMNW, MeCCSA-PGN, and SHETogether. Her work has also been released by ABLAZE Records on ‘Electronic Masters vol. 8’. Sarah is currently undertaking an AHRC NWCDTP funded PhD at the University of Manchester. Her research explores the use of animal sounds within electroacoustic composition to create new sonic means for conservation awareness, public engagement, and nature connection.

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Julia Loginovich (University of Manchester): The Future of Post-Pandemic Development: Beyond Neoliberal Individualism?

Despite recent shifts within the development paradigm, it continues to function within the post-but-still Washington Consensus framework under the aegis of “undead” or “zombie” neoliberalism (Peck 2010), where despite its dysfunctionality a paradigm shift towards an alternative has not yet crystalized. Could, however, the Covid-19 crisis, as a major anthropological tipping-point, mean a transition away from neoliberalism and post-Washington development? What could an alternative post-pandemic future look like? It could be argued, that the current crisis, exposing the inadequacies of the currently prevailing neoliberalism as individualism presents an opportunity to move beyond it, paving the way for a solidarity-based paradigm in development. Via tracing the historical shifts within the global development through an analysis of discursive framings of governance, poverty and health, it will be shown that despite the varying levels of “social component” and state-intervention, both WC and PWC are neoliberal in their adoption of individualism as a guiding principle. Notwithstanding the emerging rhetoric of “participation” and “community” after the transition from WC to PWC, and further after the 2008 crisis, global development keeps operating from a neoliberal “standpoint of isolated individuality” (Meszaros 2010). The pandemic – a genuinely social challenge beyond the control of individual agents – has exposed the inadequacy of neoliberal still-post-Washington individualism and its self-enclosed, responsibilising framings of agency, instead highlighting the need for a affective solidarity-grounded paradigm. It served as an opportunity for early forms of such solidarity to emerge, showing what a system based not merely on a formal approach to community and calculative forms of co-existence, but on solidarity as an emergence of collective agencies would look like. The Covid-19 crisis presents an opportunity to reframe development: move beyond neoliberalism as individualism of WC and PWC and adopt a global solidarity-based framework as a promising alternative future for development.

Julia Loginovich is a 2nd Year PhD Researcher at the university of Manchester Politics department. Her research is broadly based within the field of critical IPE, with particular interest in neoliberalism and post-structural approaches to neoliberalism, neoliberal subjectivity, global (post)neoliberal governance of development, Critical Discourse Analysis and Discourse Theory. Her field of research also touches upon sociological approaches to modernity, particularly theory of individualisation and its role in the reconfigurations of the Global Political Economy. More practically, her current research focuses on Discourse Analysis of International Institutions, especially the World Bank, exploring how it is involved in production, and transformation of neoliberal subjectivities. Her PhD thesis adopts a Foucauldian governmentality perspective to investigate the World Bank’s role in the production of neoliberalism as discourse of individualisation and to look at the direction of the current discursive change within global development, including possibilities of non-neoliberal global futures.

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Session chair:  Aleksandra Szymczyk (Manchester Metropolitan University / The University of Manchester)

Aleksandra is a researcher at the Policy Evaluation and Research Unit at Manchester Metropolitan University and a PhD candidate in Social Anthropology at the University of Manchester. Her research interests include migration and transnationalism, right-wing populism, postsocialism, neoliberalism and globalisation.

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