Friday, 5 June 2020



Corona experiences, life-worlds, and (non-)movement between the regions

A month further into the ongoing infringements and impediments upon everyday lives across the world, this is our second installment of texts on corona experiences in and between the life-worlds of ZMO’s regions of study – and of course our own respective life-worlds in and around Berlin. As we have been keeping on observing, in diverse ways and through different kinds of connections and from near and far, what has been going on; counting the costs and yearning to stop counting the cost of lives; worried about work and food, and worried about the elderly (parents especially); listening in to radio debates and watching TV reports, directly from the regions. How long will the corona experience haunt us, and determine our lives? These are questions we share with friends and colleagues abroad, knowing that that lives and living conditions are very different indeed – and knowing that the diverse ways of handling the crisis by governments can make all the difference for people’s lives.
These accounts here are illuminating, for some cases and countries, the dangerous dynamics of perpetuation of difference and social inequality – through suspicion, fear, and othering – and for others, the possible potentials of social peace and isolation in newly found quiet spaces. Still others are engaging in comparative endeavors across time and space, and showing us historical experiences elsewhere in relation to ours today. What is there to be learned, if anything? What might be the unexpected – and even unintended – benefits of having had to face the challenges people are facing and coming to terms with, in different ways and with very different tools and provisions.

The accounts here are embedded in regional perspectives, close to the people who are challenged, and sensitive to the pathways of experience caused or exacerbated by corona effects. But in particular, beyond texts in different languages that are reflecting also (in part, at least) the range of regional experience, these accounts employ a variety of formats and genres for their narratives conveying experience: photographs and visuals, social media, audio clips and oral accounts.

May some of the deep-felt currency and immediacy of the experiences caught and portrayed here reach you, dear readers, and make you think about your own corona experiences in relation to them. All contributions that have reached us so far are listed below and on our

Kai Kresse, ZMO vice director for research

Uganda’s Fraught Response to COVID-19


"In some ways Uganda’s response has been remarkable." An article by Sara Weschler.

 1 June 2020



No Exit: International Students and the Pandemic


An article by Smaran Dayal in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

 27 May 2020


A Kenyan corona travel odyssey: between quarantine, curfew, lockdown and shutdown


Kai Kresse interviewed the Kenyan poet and political activist Abdilatif Abdalla.

 21 May 2020



Blocking the Pandemic: Regional Boundary Controls in Indonesia’s Far East


Jacob Nerenberg contributed to the #WitnessingCorona series on the blog Medizinethnologie.

 21 May 2020


Der russische Patient – in Russland zeigt die Corona-Pandemie erstaunliche Parallelen zur Cholera im späten Zarenreich


Ein Gastkommentar von Stefan Kirmse in der Neuen Züricher Zeitung.

 22 May 2020


Infizierte Gesellschaft


In Indien wird Covid-19 als "muslimische Krankheit" skandalisiert. Ein Beitrag von Nitin Sinha und Reyazul Haque in leibniz.

 11 May 2020



Le Ramadan s’accommode mal du confinement


An interview by Mondafrique with Abdoulaye Sounaye on Corona, curfew and Ramadan in Niamey, Niger.

 28 April 2020



Beyond body and nation: Household in times of ‘lockdown’


An article by Nitin Sinha in Asiaville. Cartoon by Satish Acharya.

 24 April 2020


Kyrgyzstan-Memes reflecting the “talk of the day” during Coronavirus-Lockup


A social media project uses humour to deal with the Coronavirus crisis. An article by Florian Coppenrath.

 21 April 2020



»Die Pandemie brachte Modernisierung«


Interview mit Ulrike Freitag in leibniz über die Cholera-Pandemie in der arabischen Welt vor 200 Jahren.

 21 April 2020


15 April, Fellbach, Germany


"Here, life feels much more normal than in Berlin." Juliane Schumacher reports her experiences in the Lockdown Journal.

 15 April 2020



Democracy: Who is she when she is quarantined at home?


Article by Reyazul Haque and Farhana Latief in the Times of India World Blog.

14 April 2020


Tenders & Calls

Position of a research fellow (m/f/div) at ZMO within the collaborative research project “Historicity of democracy in the Arab world” (HISDEMAB)

Duration: 36 months
New deadline for submitting the application: 1 July 2020

New Publications

Alexander Benatar
Kalter Krieg auf dem indischen Subkontinent.
Die deutsch-deutsche Diplomatie im Bangladeschkrieg 1971


ZMO-Studien 38, De Gruyter 2020, 257 pp.

Open access!



Stefan B. Kirmse
In Defense of Land and Faith: Muslim Tatars between Confrontation and Accommodation in Late Imperial Russia

In: Acta Slavica Iaponica, Tomus 40, pp. 169–192.



ZMO in the Media

„Die Erinnerung an Migrationsgeschichten lebt weiter“


Interview mit Ulrike Freitag.
Qantara, 3 June 2020 



Die Bedeutung der Haddsch für Saudi-Arabien

Interview mit Ulrike Freitag.
Deutschlandfunk, 26 May 2020 



Stadt der Händler

Book review by Rainer Hermann of Ulrike Freitag's monograph "A History of Jeddah".
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Nr. 102,
2 May 2020





Sezai Ozan Zeybek ve Hilal Alkan'la Havadan Sudan

Radio programme with Sezai Ozan Zeybek and Hilal Alkan on Özgürüz Radyo, a radio station broadcasting in Turksih from Berlin. Every second Wednesday, Sezai and Hilal talk about ecology, environmental issues and their relationships with the non-humans.




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