This event has passed

The Pandemocracy Conference

This conference explores the challenge and opportunities the pandemic creates for democracy, with a special focus on everyday democratic engagement, conviviality, local politics, activism and communication for social change. We ask contributors to consider their proposal in terms of both the potential challenges and opportunities facing democracy in the coming years.

You are all warmly invited to join us for two days of interesting discussions on how the ongoing pandemic, and its aftermath, is challenging and reshaping democracy. Use the link below to register– even if you only want to join for a single keynote or pop in for a paper session. And feel free to spread the news of the event to your peers.

Register for the conference


The research platform Rethinking Democracy at Malmö University calls for papers providing theoretical and empirical contributions to current debates on not only challenges, but also the potential opportunities for rethinking democracy in the context of the ongoing global pandemic. We invite papers that consider the future of democracy in post Covid times.

In what directions will the Covid-19 pandemic, and its aftermath, lead us to rethink democracy?

The present moment urges us to critically address the challenges and opportunities for the future of democracy. Democratic rights have been greatly curtailed with temporary extensions of executive power in the name of public health eroding the normal checks and balances within many states; yet we have also seen evidence of democratic renewal.

In the midst of the pandemic and widespread lock-downs, there has been an unprecedented wave of social movement mobilisations challenging gendered and racialised structures that once seemed insurmountable. The pandemic has energised new ways of doing democracy, including new forms of grassroots organising in online spaces and a renewal of community self-support networks. Traditional forms of participation in democracy have also been affected – for example, through greater use of online campaigning and early/remote voting procedures in elections.

The nation-state has never seemed stronger, as national executives redefine the private sphere of everyday life; yet, the nation-state has never seemed less suited to the demands of a policy problem that is truly transnational and global. Covid-19 is both testament to the ongoing power of the nation-state, but also its abject failure through obstructing a more equal allocation of essential medical equipment, health care, and vaccinations.

Seen in global perspective, the citizens of the Global North are expected to be vaccinated long before those of the Global South; forging further inequalities and risking new mutations that exceed our capacity to develop new vaccinations. However, the global awareness of our interconnectedness and mutual interdependence is perhaps stronger than ever. Thus, the pandemic is leading us to rethink the ambiguities of globalisation. Covid-19 has reached all sectors of society around the globe, transcending social barriers and cleavages; yet, mortality rates have been grossly unequal across demographics, highlighting extreme inequalities within even the richest welfare states. Those marginalised along racial lines, or due to their uncertain legal status, have been particularly negatively affected. Ironically, the role of anti-migrant policies in worsening living conditions for many individuals has helped create the conditions in which the virus has had its greatest impact; evidencing the huge cost paid by us all for maintaining an anti-migrant ideology.

Some potential challenges and opportunities to be considered might be as follows. Challenges might include:

  • Restrictions on civic freedom and movement, and their effect on citizens' rights
  • The apparent willingness of citizens to concede democratic rights
  • Side-stepping of normal due process
  • Social isolation and disconnection
  • Political effects of the unequal impact of covid
  • The threat a resurgent nationalism poses to democracy
  • Continued clashes between various pro-global and alter- and anti/de-globalisation visions and practices

Opportunities might include:

  • New forms of sociality/togetherness, including bottom-up organising
  • Conviviality and ways of ‘co-existing’; Rethinking individuality, community and collectivity
  • New appreciation of and trust in expert and professional knowledge
  • Emergence of new ways of doing (everyday) democracy in response to the pandemic
  • Empowerment of political identities and demands
  • Social movements and citizen organising
  • A transnational awareness of human life and democratic renewal

Please submit your abstract (maximum 500 words) to Deadline is June 7 2021.

Select papers from the conference will be invited to be part of a Special Issue for an international peer-reviewed journal.

09:00 – Intro and welcome from Professor Rebecka Lettevall, Dean of the Faculty of Culture
and Society
09:15 – Keynote 1: Thomas Hylland Eriksen (Professor of social anthropology, University of
Oslo) The pandemic as accelerator: Implications of digitalization, (Chair: Oscar Hemer)
10:15 – Break
10:30 – Paper panel 1. Distrust, fear and disinformation (Chair: Anders Hög Hansen, K3
Malmö University)

12:00 – Lunch break. Optional mingle:

13:00 – Paper panel 2. The pandemic’s role in reconfiguring power relations (Chair: Maria
Brock, K3, Malmö University)
14:30 – Roundtable discussion: Magdalena Nowiska (Humboldt university Germany),
Marina Nistotskaya (University of Gothenburg, Sweden) and Gabriel Siles-Brugge (Warwick University, UK)

16:30 – Break Optional mingle:

17.00 – Keynote 2: Jan Nederveen Pieterse (Professor of Global Studies and
Sociology at University of California Santa Barbara US): Covid-19 and Governance: Crisis reveals (Chair: Oscar Hemer)
18.00 – Close for day 1

9:00 – Keynote 3 Carolyn Hendriks (Professor at the Crawford School of Public Policy
Australian National university) The connective work of everyday democratic repair (Chair: Michael Strange)
10:00 – Break
10:15 – Paper panel 3. Populism and the pandemic (Chair: Anders Hellström, GPS, Malmö

12:00 – Lunch break. Optional mingle:

13:00 – Keynote 4: Anne Kaun (Media and Communication Studies, Södertörn university,
Sweden): Media distrust and vaccine hesitancy in the context of the covid-19 pandemic crisis: findings from a European panel survey (Chair: Tina Askanius)
14:00 – Conference closes.

1: Distrust, fear and disinformation

(15th Sept. 10.30-12.00)
Chair: Anders Hög Hansen, K3, Malmö University

“I trust in no one!” Exploring vaccination hesitancy as everyday politics
Author: Mia-Marie Hammarlin, Lund University, Sweden

Mis/Dis-Information and Webinars about Syria During the Covid-19 Pandemic
Author: Josepha Wessels, K3, Malmö university, Sweden

Pandemocracy And The Politics Of Fear: Beyond The State Of Exception
Authors: Dan Degerman (Department of Philosophy University of Bristol), Matthew Johnson (Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University) and Matthew Flinders (Department of Politics and Sir Bernard Crick Centre University of Sheffield

2: The pandemic’s role in reconfiguring power relations

(15th Sept. 13.00-14.30)
Chair: Maria Brock, K3, Malmö University

A Convivial Turn: Reimagining Democracy and Global Governance in the Post-Pandemic World
Author: Sungjoon Cho, Professor of Law, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law

The Democratic Paradox of the Israeli COVID-19 Regulations
Author: Sharon Yadin, University of Haifa, Israel

Discursive struggles over the EU´s identity as a foreign policy actor in times of pandemic
Authors: Corina Filipescu and Michel Vincent Anderlini (Dept of Global Political Studies, Malmö University)

3. Populism and the pandemic

(16th Sept. 10.15-12.00)
Chair: Anders Hellström, GPS, Malmö University

Populism and COVID19: How Populist Governments (Mis)Handle the Pandemic
Authors: Michael Bayerlein (Kiel Institute for the World Economy; Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel); Vanessa A. Boesex (Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute, University of Gothenburg), Scott Gates (Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), University of Oslo), Katrin Kaminy (Kiel Institute for the World Economy; Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel), Syed Mansoob Murshedk (Centre for Financial and Corporate Integrity (CFCI), Coventry University)

Populist communication in pandemic times: How populist presidents in Latin America performed the COVID-19 crisis
Authors: Aline Burni (German Development Institute) and Eduardo Ryo Tamaki (Federal University of Minas Gerais)

The political uses of the covid pandemic in the rise of Greek authoritarianism
Authors: Filippa Chatzistavrou and Konstantinos Papanikolaou (Department of Political Science and Public Administration, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)