Catastrophe or Transformation? Rethinking the Pandemic

From 15 March 2022 to 24 May 2022

From social inequalities to the narrowing of democratic life and the rise of authoritarianism, the pandemic is pushing us to think critically. Yet spaces for reflection have shrunk due to health restrictions. With this series of webinars, the Research Centre on Social Innovations and Transformations (CRITS) is creating a space open to all to discuss the future with the big question: what are the ways to avoid disaster and fuel transformation?

The Catastrophe or Transformation? webinars will take place from March 15 to May 24, 2022 from 12:00 to 1:30 pm.

March 15 – Injustices, vulnerabilities and the pandemic: Ryoa Chung, Emilie Nicolas
The pandemic reveals the weaknesses of our health and education systems. Neoliberal policies – colored by North-South power relations, gender, class, racialization and capacity – have created vulnerabilities that have become all the more visible during the crisis. What fault lines have opened up that suggest ways to question the established order?
Event in French
Facebook event

March 29 – Growing up in the pandemic: Alexa Conradi, Rayene Bouzitoun
The pandemic and the response to it have had direct effects on the socialization of children and youth. These impacts are still difficult to measure accurately. In this intergenerational conversation, we will attempt to name the challenges ahead for those who have grown up in the midst of the crisis.
Event in French

April 6 – Critical Thinking in Critical Times: Hélène Tordjman and Alex Stevens
The pandemic has challenged the foundations of public debate. There has been concern, and rightly so, about the rise of conspiracy thinking that proposes bases for criticism that are far-fetched, illogical, or even not false. The fear of being associated with the denial of the pandemic or with the anti-vaxers has resulted in a narrowing of the critical public space, particularly with regard to science. However, science is not neutral and has to be held accountable for its not always progressive choices. The social and human sciences thus have a critical role to play in broadening purely techno-scientific thinking. This exchange aims to explore the contours of a legitimate critique.
Bilingual event, simultaneous translation

April 19 – Arts, Imaginaries and Disasters: Valérie Lefebvre-Faucher, Emmanuelle Nizou
The pandemic isolates us and reduces access to the performing arts. Yet, more than ever, in the face of so many crises and disasters, we need the arts to deconstruct dominant imaginaries and to open up to others that are more egalitarian and more in tune with the earth’s limits. This exchange brings together activist artists who will address the role of art in an era marked by great crises.
Event in French

May 4 – Municipalities and the Pandemic: Bochra Manaï, Joseph El-Khoury (date to be confirmed)
Municipalities have played a leading role in the management of the health crisis in a context of reconfiguration of risk governance within the different levels of public administration in Canada. How do they articulate the needs and interests of the public with the day-to-day realities of institutional emergency management? Our guests will offer a critical review of their respective fields of expertise in order to develop perspectives on democratic risk management for municipalities.
Event in French

May 18 – Living with the virus? Pathways to a Health Democracy: Nima Machouf, Alexandra Pierre
While most of the sanitary measures have been withdrawn, what are the various solutions to be kept, abandoned or invented in order to live decently during the pandemic in a fair and democratic way? What can be done with the state of emergency, the vaccine passport and other measures that could reappear in future waves? How can we establish democratic control mechanisms and a public health strategy that is more respectful of fundamental rights and freedoms?
Event in French

May 24 – Authoritarianism and post-pandemic: Eva von Redecker, Sébastien Tremblay
Authoritarian movements, here and elsewhere in the world, have mobilized before, during and will certainly continue after the pandemic. How should we understand these movements? What can we learn from history? What practices and policies can limit their roots and support? This exchange aims to take a critical look at a developing phenomenon in Quebec and Canada, with the support of two researchers with bases in Germany.
Event in English, simultaneous translation in French

List of speakers:

Ryoa Chung est co-Directrice du Centre de Recherche en Éthique et professeure titulaire au département de philosophie de l’Université de Montréal. Ses champs de recherche sont la philosophie politique et la philosophie féministe contemporaines, l’éthique des relations internationales et les inégalités de santé. Ses articles et ouvrages (écrits seule ou avec co-auteurs) sont parus aux Presses Universitaires de France, Oxford University Press, Journal of Social Philosophy, Hastings Centre, Journal of Medical Ethics, The Lancet. Depuis 2017, elle est collaboratrice régulière pour des émissions sur Ici Première Radio Canada.

Emilie Nicolas est anthropologue, consultante et chroniqueuse pour Le Devoir et The Montreal Gazette. Engagée pour la justice sociale, Emilie a collaboré à la mise sur pied de Québec inclusif en 2013 et d’une coalition en faveur de l’égalité et contre le racisme systémique au Québec en 2016. Ses travaux ont été publiés dans plusieurs revues, magazines et journaux, et elle est souvent invitée à titre de commentatrice par les médias, d’analyste et de conférencière sur les droits de la personne.

Alexa Conradi is a doctoral candidate at the Élisabeth-Bruyère School of Social Innovation at Saint-Paul University. Best known for her tenure as president of the Federation of Women of Québec (2009-2015) and for her prize-winning essay Fear, Love and Liberation in Contemporary Québec, a book about emancipatory and intersectional feminist politics, she holds an MA in Media Studies, the focus of which was on reconciliation and colonialism. Today, she works as a consultant and educator on issues of gender and race in multiple countries. Alexa shares her time between Berlin, Ottawa and Montréal.

Rayene Bouzitoun est une jeune algéro-canadienne de 22 ans. Elle termine actuellement un programme de double baccalauréat en droit et en développement international à l’Université d’Ottawa où elle étudie à titre de Boursière Loran 2018. Rayene a été membre inaugurale du Conseil jeunesse du Premier Ministre à l’âge de 18 ans. Plus récemment, elle a travaillé avec des jeunes du nord de l’Éthiopie pour améliorer la santé et les droits des femmes et des enfants dans le cadre du programme Born on Time. En Mars dernier, Rayene a été engagée comme étudiante en droit à la firme internationale Norton Rose Fulbright. Elle prévoit poursuivre ses études supérieures en droit et développement. Amoureuse de sa communauté, Rayene a participé à plusieurs projets communautaires dans le quartier de Saint-Michel, entre autres, auprès de l’organisme du Forum Jeunesse de Saint-Michel duquel elle a été présidente pendant deux ans. Rayene s’implique même en Algérie, son pays natal. Cette année, elle a co-dirigé un projet de levée de fonds afin d’équiper l’hôpital de Skikda des outils nécessaires à la réponse contre la COVID-19.

Alex Stevens is Professor in Criminal Justice at the University of Kent in the UK. He studies the overlaps between drugs, crime and public health. He has a specific interest in the politics of expertise and policy making. He was member of the UK Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (2014 – 2019). He is also a former President of the International Society for the Study of Drug Policy (2015 – 2019). He is currently a member of the scientific committee of Drug Science and a trustee of Harm Reduction International. He served as special adviser to the 2019 inquiry of the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee on drug policy. He is now writing a new book on Drug Policy Constellations, which explain how power and moralities influence drug policy making.

Emmanuelle Nizou vit à Bruxelles, et prendra la parole au nom du collectif artistique Désorceler la finance dont elle est l’une des fondatrices. Elle a participé à construire la ligne artistique et la mise en scène des performances, rituels, expositions, conférences, ateliers d’écriture, happenings, cartomancies. Elle est également coordinatrice artistique dans un lieu dédié aux arts de la scène à Bruxelles (La Bellone), et impliquée dans plusieurs collectifs et organismes qui croisent art, théorie, politique et activisme, en inventant des stratégies d’intervention artistique dans la sphère publique.

Joseph El-Khoury: Joseph (Joey) EL-Khoury est docteur en sciences humaines appliquées de l’Université de Montréal, sa thèse porte sur le rôle des organisations de la société civile dans l’accélération de la transition socio-écologique dans les contextes urbains. Il est chargé de cours en responsabilité sociale des entreprises (RSE), développement durable et innovation sociale à HEC Montréal; ainsi que chargé de projet en entrepreneuriat social et chercheur-consultant en politique publique municipale et stratégie d’impact au Pôle IDEOS, le centre d’impact social à HEC Montréal. Chercheur-militant avec la Coalition climat Montréal depuis 2015, il est passionné de permaculture, de simplicité volontaire et en tant que père de famille; il fait l’école à la maison et s’implique dans le mouvement pour la déscolarisation au Québec.

Eva von Redecker is a critical theorist and public philosopher writing about social change, moral judgement, modern property, and sometimes even life and death. In her Marie-Skłodowska-Curie-fellowship at the University of Verona, Eva pursued a research project on authoritarianism (PhantomAiD). Previously, she has worked as research associate at Humboldt-University, Berlin (2009 to 2019) and as guest lecturer at the New School, New York (fall 2015). Eva has written two books on social transformation, an academic one focusing on social theory (Praxis and Revolution, Columbia UP 2021), and a general audience one on eco-collapse and resistance which has sparked lively debate and is being translated into French, Spanish, Korean, and Greek (Revolution für das Leben, S.Fischer 2020).

Dr. Sébastien Tremblay (he/him) is a research associate and lecturer at the Europa-University Flensburg in Germany. He is also an associated researcher in queer history at Goldsmiths, University of London in the UK. Born in Montreal / Tiohtià:ke, he obtained his doctorate from the Graduate School of Global Intellectual History in Berlin in 2020. His dissertation focused on the pink triangle as a symbol of gay and lesbian identities in the transatlantic world, more specifically in the FRG, in the USA and Canada. His doctoral research has earned him grants from the Halle Foundation for German American Relations, the Ernst Reuter Society, the German Research Foundation and the DAAD. Before arriving in Flensburg, Sébastien was a postdoctoral fellow at the International Research College of the DFG Cluster of Excellence ‘SCRIPTS – Contestations of the Liberal Script’ where he studied the link between a queer collective memory of National Socialism, the media construction of the ‘homophobic migrant’ and the link uniting borders and temporalities.

Detailed program