Three Questions with Jayna Brown and Neferti X. M. Tadiar, editors of “2020: Sociality at the End of the World”

Jayna Brown and Neferti X. M. Tadiar are editors of “2020: Sociality at the End of the World,” a new issue of Social Text. Buy a copy of the issue for only $7.50 during our Spring Sale using code SPRING22, or check out the table of contents here.

What makes “2020: Sociality at the End of the World” unique or essential? What does it do that no other collection has done before?

NT: This special issue brings together the diverse voices and experiences of people suffering, resisting, dreaming, and living the catastrophic consequences of the global pandemic shaped by fascist regimes of racial capitalism. Scholars, activists, and artists record vibrant moments of insurrectionary care and sociality, haunting historical memories and personal pain, fervent defiance and protest, and collective action and mutual aid, from India to Singapore, from the US to South Africa, from England to Peru. Diverse times and spaces, people and their concerns, are gathered to stay with the openings that a globally shared predicament made possible—to highlight and keep alive other globally shared connections at the end of the world, even as that world aggressively rushes to return to a normal that was for most the very crisis and catastrophe we were already living with.

What are some topics that readers can expect to find covered in the issue?

JB: It’s a deeply collaborative issue: each piece is written by what we’ve been calling a “pod”—a group of writers in conversation with one another, with each author contributing to a larger collaborative essay. The essay “Andolan Imaginaries,” edited by Anjali Arondekar, for instance, brings together work by artists, activists, and scholars based in India and the US, and reflecting on contemporary forms of resistance. And Ashley Dawson and Rashmi Varma edited the collaborative essay “Cities in Flux.” Many of the sections build on the authors’ existing scholarship on cities and political resistance; the sections also present daily life during the pandemic across a variety of locations, with contributors writing about their personal experiences of pandemic space in Singapore, Delhi, Kottayam, Johannesburg, London, Glasgow, Buenos Aires, and New York City. [Editor’s note: The section “Martial Law Now, as Then” is free to read through the end of July.]

“We hope that the issue can be, to some extent, a time-capsule in a quickly-changing situation.”

jayna brown

Contributors also write about specifics of their daily lives in other ways—Aimee Meredith Cox contributes a video and image of a choreographed dance to a pod edited by Jonathan Beller, with the focus on isolation and lack of touch during the initial months of the pandemic. Kaysha Corinealdi contributes a diary of in-person teaching during fall semester 2020. Sandy Grande writes about eldercare and family during the pandemic. Many contributors write about the protests of summer 2020. Everyone brings their scholarship and other work with them into these pieces, but this issue’s focus is daily life and resistance in the first year of the pandemic, and talking to one another across the distance and the isolation.

How do you imagine the issue could be used in courses or as a basis for future scholarship—or work outside the academic sphere?

JB: We hope that the issue can be, to some extent, a time-capsule in a quickly-changing situation. 

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