An unusual businessFeatures

XXVII.4 July - August 2020
Page: 6
Digital Citation

An unusual business: Introduction

Alex Taylor, Daniela Rosner, Mikael Wiberg

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When Covid-19 began to spread in late 2019 and into early 2020, a common refrain was that we wouldn't allow ourselves to be defeated. That we might persist, carry on, conduct, in some way, business as usual. A rhetoric of war was heard from many of our leaders and politicians, suggesting triumph over a clear enemy. As we'll hear in the articles that follow, what many of us have learned in the interim is just how hard it has been to keep going, to continue meeting one another, to keep up with our teaching commitments, to work with partners and clients, and indeed to earn a livelihood. And work hasn't been the only thing we've had to contend with. Many of us have had challenges in coping at home and with family, loved ones, and friends. Life has felt like a bricolage of competing demands and pressures, and, for us, at least—at times, too much to cope with.


In the pieces we've included this section, we've found a common thread in which academics and practitioners alike have been seeking ways to respond to the challenges. Though not to continue with business as usual, but rather to imagine and experiment with alternative practices, while having to cope with the unknown consequences. Nova Ahmed, Rahat Jahangir Rony, and Kimia Tuz Zaman, for example, reflect on their continuing fieldwork with garment workers in Bangladesh. Danielle Lottridge considers the practical but nevertheless critical question of pursuing research through videochat. Both David Youngmeyer and Katta Spiel ask questions about continuing education with the move to very different educational settings and relationships. And Barry Brown and Duncan Brumby draw our attention to what happens when the events that academics treat as routine—conferences and consortia—have to move online. Altogether, we see that far from clear-cut war, we are engaged in creative and precarious practices, trying out ways of carrying on and making do when life is so unpredictable.

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