Covid-19 in comparative perspective – CALL FOR BLOG CONTRIBUTIONS

The current covid-19 pandemic is bringing into sharp focus two key questions at the core of comparative law research: first, globalisation and how increasing and intense are our political, social, cultural and economic interactions with countries, public and private organisations and fellow humans across the world; secondly, the distinctiveness of national reactions to this shared common challenge. The covid-19 crisis brings this very tension between these local and global dimension sharply into our daily lives when we need to stay 6 feet away from others and how differently we experience these general guidelines, depending on whether we are pregnant and about to give birth, taking care of toddlers, home-schooling children, caring for vulnerable relatives, ensuring there is food on the table or keeping up with our work through on-line technologies.

Many blogs are currently putting together excellent insights and thoughts about this crisis. BACL would like to contribute to this discussion by bringing comparison more sharply in focus in order to understand where lessons can be learned, how far they can be learned and how important contextualising the discussions may be. BACL would thus be interested in short blog pieces on the following perspectives on the covid-19 crisis:

  • risks and legal techniques dealing with risks (medical risks, financial risks, travel related risks, mental risks, risks of fake news spreading on social media, risks prevention, risk assessment, torts, etc.) : how does the approach to risks in a given country (or entity) help us better understand globalisation and national cultures? Can different models be identified?
  • comparison on protecting vulnerable people (how vulnerable people are understood in this crisis: this would include the vulnerable categories regarding their physical conditions but also women and domestic violence, the homeless, inmates, refugees etc.). How the World Health Organisation’s definition of ‘vulnerability’ shapes who is understood to be “vulnerable”?
  • comparison with previous experiences of crisis in a given country: current governments often do not reinvent the wheel in dealing with the covid-19 crisis. They go back to previous crises to address the current one. How do they do that? Which types of previous crisis? Is this self-evident regarding the subject-matter (due to being related to a crisis arising from food poisoning or disease) or because of the power needed by the government (state of emergency type of reaction)?
  • research designs (and comparisons) in times of crisis: lessons from elsewhere can be tempting to gain time or to address lack of domestic expertise, but should the government and their experts not make basic checks before looking elsewhere for inspiration? How can/should this be done? Can comparative lawyers contribute to the WHO’s thinking here in the sense that uniform broad guidelines may actually be problematic in various ways as they do not address local specificities (needs or expertise etc.) or how regulators, national government, private organisations develop their short- and longer term responses to the crisis?

This call has four rolling deadlines, which would allow for a more instant approach to our questions and then a more conceptual take on the covid-19 as the crisis unfolds. The first deadline is 15 May 2020. The next anticipated deadlines will be:

– 15 September 2020

– 15 March 2021

– 15 September 2021.

The blog pieces should be ca 1,500 words long. Acceptance to publish the blog pieces and/or suggested revisions prior to publications will be communicated shortly after the deadline.

A webinar will be organised in the Autumn to discuss the main findings arising from the blog pieces BACL receives.

Please do send your enquiries or blog posts to Dr Yseult Marique (ymarique@essex.ac.uk).

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