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Horizons of Freedom: The paradoxes of citizenship in the pandemic; Jo Shaw, University of Edinburgh

19. February 14:00 - 16:00

By exploring how the meaning of certain social acts has been shifting under pandemic conditions, we can gain new insights into the character of constitutional citizenship and its relationship with political ideas such as populism and fundamental principles such as equality and dignity. These shifts illustrate the changing meaning of what constitutes the ‘good citizen’, all the time playing on what Jean Cohen terms ‘the paradoxical dialectic inherent in modern constitutionalism’ (at least within bounded polities), which ‘drives republican or liberal democratic conceptions of citizenship into the arms of thicker, more communitarian understandings of identity.’ This, then, raises the question of whether it is feasible and reasonable to place a brake upon such trends, and to ask which types of norms and institutions, at the national and international levels, are suitable for that task. The focal points in this paper are face-coverings and masks, alongside public protests against restrictions on liberties imposed in the name of combatting the spread of the virus.


Jo Shaw holds the Salvesen Chair of European Institutions at the University of Edinburgh, and a part time chair at New Social Research at Tampere University in Finland. She has recently published The People in Question, with Bristol University Press: https://bristoluniversitypress.co.uk/the-people-in-question.


19. February
14:00 - 16:00