The Coronavirus and Mobility Forum

Overview

Welcome to the Coronavirus and Mobility forum facilitated by Professor Biao Xiang.

How can a mobility perspective shed light on the current Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, and what can we learn about mobilities throughout the pandemic and for the future?

Mobilities are not only basic human practices; they frame how global society is organized and disrupted. They are managed by national and international policies and regulations.

This forum facilitates discussion among researchers from multiple disciplines across the world to deepen our understandings of the crisis, and to explore new tools in migration research that will help us to make sense of the fast-moving world. The forum is a platform for ongoing reflections and discussions, and is not currently a defined research project. The views expressed in the forum are of individual authors, rather than those of COMPAS.

We conceive mobility broadly, including; cross-border migration as well as within a country; daily commutes and family mobility; mobile work (e.g. taxi drivers and delivery workers); and mobile lifestyles (e.g. travelling communities and tourists). Apart from the movement of people, we also consider the movement of goods such as equipment and medical samples. Immobility is equally important as we witness the erection of borders and boundaries of all kinds during the pandemic.

Click on the Outputs tab (above) to find the Coronavirus and Mobility Forum blogs divided by theme

Why do mobilities matter and What can researchers do to help?

Principal Investigator

Biao Xiang, Professor of Social Anthropology

 

This is a list of the most recent Forum blogs; previous blogs can be found by clicking on the Outputs tab above (immediately below the title The Coronavirus and Mobility Forum)

The Forum is partnering with China’s The Paper to dual-publish some contributions in both English and Chinese.

COVID Flash Talks a student-led webinar series that accompanies contributions in the Forum can be found here.

News & Media

Global crises and migrant futures (an historical view)
Blog | John Starosta Galante

A pandemic, and then what? The effects of the coronavirus pandemic on migrant care workers in Germany
Blog | Anna Safuta & Kristin Noack

COVID-19 may not have reached Syrian communities in the Middle East, but its domino effects have
Blog | Ann-Christin Wagner, Shaher Abdullateef & Lisa Boden

Hyper-precarious lives: Bangladeshi migrants on Azad visas in Qatar during COVID-19
Blog | Lamea Momen & Priya Deshingkar

Migrant workers in the tourism industry: How has COVID-19 affected them and what does the future hold?
Blog | Helen Dempster & Cassandra Zimmer

Guatemala: From the border crisis to the immobility of the town of Patzún, the Mayan people at risk
Blog | Saúl Aguilar

Shock Mobility: Convulsions in human migration are having large impacts (Part II)
Blog | Biao Xiang

Shock Mobility: Convulsions in human migration are having large impacts (Part I)
Blog | Biao Xiang

Making home on the move
Blog | Shivangi Kaushik

Researching international student mobility into a post-pandemic future (Part II)
Blog | Yi’En Cheng, Peidong Yang & Cora L. Xu

Researching international student mobility into a post-pandemic future (Part I)
Blog | Yi’En Cheng, Peidong Yang & Cora L. Xu

Mobility Prohibitions and Shantytown Workers in Delhi
Blog | T G Suresh

Seasonal harvest workers during COVID-19
Blog | Roxana Barbulescu & Carlos Vargas-Silva

Migration and Mobility after the 2020 Pandemic: The End of an Age?
Blog | Alan Gamlen

Emergency returns: COVID-19 and the repatriation of Filipino migrant workers
Blog | Karen Anne S. Liao

The gyroscope-like economy (Part II)
Blog | Biao Xiang

The gyroscope-like economy (Part I)
Blog | Biao Xiang

Topics

BordersHealth

Regions

AsiaEurope

Outputs

The Forum blogs have been divided into 6 themes:

Mobile Livelihoods

The COVID-19 pandemic reminds us of just how many people worldwide rely on mobility for their livelihood: drivers, delivery workers, street vendors, maintenance technicians of long-distance operation systems, sex workers, the homeless, children who live on the street, and so many more. Mobility, in effect, is their main means of work — and survival. Those who rely on mobility either facilitate others’ movement (e.g. drivers) or move on others’ behalf (e.g. delivery riders). Admittedly one of the most “traditional” lifestyles, mobile livelihoods today are increasingly mediated through large digital platforms.

Migrant workers in the tourism industry: How has COVID-19 affected them and what does the future hold?
Blog | Helen Dempster & Cassandra Zimmer | 24/06/2020

Mobility Prohibitions and Shantytown Workers in Delhi
Blog | T G Suresh | 05/06/2020

Seasonal harvest workers during COVID-19
Blog | Roxana Barbulescu & Carlos Vargas-Silva | 04/06/2020

The gyroscope-like economy (Part II)
Blog | Biao Xiang | 27/05/2020

The gyroscope-like economy (Part I)
Blog | Biao Xiang | 26/05/2020

Unprecedented immobility? The case of stranded Filipino migrant nurses
Blog | Yasmin Y. Ortiga | 15/05/2020

Locked Down and Locked In: COVID-19 and African Migrants in India
Blog | Bani Gill | 6/05/2020

Mobile immobility: Circular migrants in India during the pandemic
Blog | Indrajit Roy | 17/04/2020

The Marooned Malaise: Covid-19 and Africa’s stolen futures
Blog | Loren B Landau | 8/04/2020

Firefighting the pandemic is inadvertently teaching India how to govern migration
Blog | Mukta Naik | 7/04/2020

The mobility of a few for the survival of the many
Blog | Barclay Bram Shoemaker | 2/04/2020

‘Unprecedented’ pandemic and the crisis of mobility in India
Blog | Vyoma Dhar Sharma | 31/03/2020

When home does not exist, what does self-quarantine mean: street children in Tehran
Blog | Shahram Khosravi | 31/03/2020

Hoarding: (Im)mobilizing things
Blog | Dace Dzenovska | 30/03/2020

Mobile Livelihoods in Stress
Blog | Biao Xiang | 26/03/2020

Shock Mobility

Crises like pandemics, as well as natural disasters and sudden social conflicts, trigger new dramatic patterns of mobilities. These mobilities save lives and ameliorate shocks but can also exacerbate anxieties and complicate rescue operations. Existing research on related phenomena has primarily focused on the causes (e.g. “climate migration,” “distress migration”) or solutions (e.g. refugee resettlement), instead of the process of movement itself. Literature on forced migration emphasizes the involuntary nature of the migration in question but pays less attention to the fact that not everyone in a forced situation decides to move or moves in the same way. The patterns, duration, density, demographic composition and temporal dynamics of shock mobilities remain a black box in many cases.

Guatemala: From the border crisis to the immobility of the town of Patzún, the Mayan people at risk
Blog | Saúl Aguilar | 23/06/2020

Shock Mobility: Convulsions in human migration are having large impacts (Part II)
Blog | Biao Xiang | 19/06/2020

Shock Mobility: Convulsions in human migration are having large impacts (Part I)
Blog | Biao Xiang | 18/06/2020

Researching international student mobility into a post-pandemic future (Part II)
Blog | Yi’En Cheng, Peidong Yang & Cora L. Xu | 11/06/2020

Researching international student mobility into a post-pandemic future (Part I)
Blog | Yi’En Cheng, Peidong Yang & Cora L. Xu | 10/06/2020

Emergency returns: COVID-19 and the repatriation of Filipino migrant workers
Blog | Karen Anne S. Liao |02/06/2020

Transnational mobilities of COVID discourse: The Question of Return
Blog | Laavanya Kathiravelu & Arokkiaraj Heller | 13/05/2020

From heroes to pariahs? Senegalese return migrants in the time of COVID-19
Blog | Hélène Neveu Kringelbach | 4/05/2020

The Chinese ‘grid reaction’ in Italy
Blog | Antonella Ceccagno and Alessandra Salvati | 29/04/2020

Unexpected two-way traffic between Comoros and Mayotte during the lockdown
Blog | Iain Walker | 27/04/2020

The “Caring Class” behind the “Grid Reaction” against Coronavirus
Blog | Jack Linzhou Xing | 26/04/2020

New mobility challenges across Hispaniola in the era of COVID-19
Blog | Bridget Wooding | 15/04/2020

The impact of immobility on intergenerational relations
Blog | Piero Vereni | 5/04/2020

Down or Out? Mobility and the management of epidemics
Blog | Jennifer Holdaway | 24/03/2020

Here we cope, here we observe, here we think and think together: a response to Robin Cohen
Blog | Biao Xiang | 20/03/2020

‘Take me home’: The coronavirus virus and panic mobility
Blog | Robin Cohen | 20/03/2020

From Chain Reaction to Grid Reaction: Mobilities & Restrictions during SARS & Coronavirus
Blog | Biao Xiang | 12/03/2020

Good Mobilities and Bad Mobilities: Ethics, Politics and Ideology

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world into a global laboratory of mobility regulation. Mobility restriction has been one of the most common responses adopted by governments to the pandemic, despite of advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and academic research that recommend otherwise. Mobility control divides otherwise mundane movements into the good (necessary or even ‘heroic’) and the bad (unnecessary, dangerous, selfish). How are such moral boundaries drawn? On what ethical and legal grounds can government restrict citizens’ daily mobility? Why do some states repatriate citizens from overseas, while others discourage their return? In the end, the political and ideological implications of these measures can be more consequential than their epidemiological effects.

Is mobility a solution to domestic and family violence?
Blog | Vidya Ramachandran | 23/04/2020

Regimes of (Im)Mobility in the Time of Pandemic
Blog | Xiao Ma | 20/04/2020

Living in fear during the COVID-19 crisis: migrant women with insecure immigration status and domestic violence
Blog | Cathy McIlwaine | 10/04/2020

Emptiness and normality in eastern Germany
Blog | Friederike Pank | 9/04/2020

Social integration and cohesion in a time of social distancing
Blog | Jacqui Broadhead | 3/04/2020

How and why the mobility of a virus has led to abolishing key civil liberties
Blog | Franck Düvell | 29/03/2020

Emptiness (Part II): An uncertain spring
Blog | Mathilde Morin | 27/03/2020

In Heterotopic Times; (Im)mobility, Social-Distancing, and Surveillance
Blog | Georgios Glouftsios | 25/03/2020

Human mobility spreads COVID-19, but whose mobility?
Blog | Qiujie Shi and Tao Liu | 24/03/2020

Emptiness (Part I): The empty streets of Blackpool
Blog | Dace Dzenovska | 23/03/2020

The Corona-pandemic: from parasitic mobility to convenient crisis
Blog | Stephan Scheel | 22/03/2020

Borders and identities

Would anyone in this era of globalization think the national origin of a virus a relevant question? Yes. And they are not alone: The two most powerful states on the planet continue to accuse each other of being the origin of the novel coronavirus, with significant proportions of citizens from both sides passionately involved in a heated battle of words. While it is bluntly clear that the virus knows no borders, governments and citizens rushed to erect them — building stone barricades around villages or closing international crossings. Even though humanity in its entirety is facing a common enemy, rifts are rapidly widening between countries and amongst social groups within countries. How and why has a disaster that demands planetary solidarity deepened tension and fragmentation? Perhaps the dynamics of re-bordering within the EU are a telling indicator of where the world is headed.

Borders never disappear
Blog | Agnieszka Halemba | 5/05/2020

Between (Im)mobility and Resistance: ‘Low-Skilled’ Migrants in the Pandemic
Blog | Domiziana Turcatti | 30/04/2020

Intra-EU emergency bordering in Coronavirus: laying bare the burden of ‘free’ mobility
Blog | Polina Manolova | 27/04/2020

Rethinking EU Borders in the time of COVID-19
Blog | Elspeth Guild and Didier Bigo | 16/04/2020

Not for the people: pandemics and the selective foresight of western neoliberal capitalism
Blog | Manolis Pratsinakis and Yannis Tzaninis | 15/04/2020

Mobilities, neo-nationalism and the lockdown of Europe: will the European Union survive?
Blog | Adrian Favell and Ettore Recchi | 14/04/2020

Evacuating the Greek Refugee Camps and strengthening Europe from Below
Blog | Julia Schweers and Daniel Kersting | 14/04/2020

Pandemic challenges for Chinese migrants in Hungary
Blog | Pál Nyíri and Fanni Beck | 10/04/2020

Borders in the Time of Coronavirus: How the COVID-19 Pandemic Upended the Global Mobility Paradigm
Blog | Gilda Borriello and Asli Salihoglu | 20/03/2020

Coronavirus: A (missed) chance to rethink racism?
Blog | Domiziana Turcatti | 18/03/2020

The Movement of Things

Things in motion are as important as people on the move in creating the modern world that we know. We see this everywhere today: the urgency of sending personal protective equipment (PPE) to medical staff; the pressure on the delivery system created by ‘panic-buying’ in supermarkets; the sensitivities involved in the exchange of medical samples and data between countries; the emotions and symbolism attached to the global tour of face masks. These are all integral and consequential parts of the global pandemic response. But on the other hand, the tightening control over human movements, through contact-tracing mobile applications, for instance, renders the movement of people into a matter comparable to logistics of goods — or the rationalized management of the movement of things.

Mixed Movements: Virus, Things, Persons, and Signs (Part II)
Blog | Do Dom Kim | 22/05/2020

Mixed Movements: Virus, Things, Persons, and Signs (Part I)
Blog | Do Dom Kim | 22/05/2020

“If I wear a face mask, everyone treats me like a disease”: the mask debate
Blog | Juan Zhang | 28/04/2020

Virologistics II: The logistics of viral transmission
Blog | Brett Neilson | 18/04/2020

Virologistics I: The virus as logistical “force majeure”
Blog | Brett Neilson | 18/04/2020

Rush to Help: Overseas Chinese and the Movement of Face Masks
Blog | Biao Zeng | 13/04/2020

The Enigmas of Transport in COVID-19
Blog | John Surico | 7/04/2020

Aeromobilities’ underbelly revealed in COVID-19 crisis
Blog | Lin Weiqiang | 2/04/2020

The new power of the technologies of immobility
Blog | Sharifah Muhammad Talib Alhinai | 1/04/2020

Locked-down cities, flying machines, and growing weeds: A note from China’s Epicentre
Blog | Ou Ning | 18/03/2020

After the Pandemic

The world during COVID-19 is not only a laboratory of mobility control but, also, a global observatory of how mobility resumes and changes after unprecedented disruption. It is difficult to predict whether we will become more mobile or less, but clearly there will be a redistribution of mobility, with different types of mobilities being assigned to specific demographics. For instance, the movement of delivery workers managed by platform technology companies may become a common commodity that many will purchase to substitute their own mobility. It is also likely that mobility will be increasingly tied to security concerns: it may raise security threats, such as creating pandemics anew, while at the same time this continuous circulations of good, capital and people must be secured to revive — and then sustain — the current economic system. This lens of mobility sheds light on the rapidly changing relations between government, corporations and individuals in the years to come.

Migration and Mobility after the 2020 Pandemic: The End of an Age?
Blog | Alan Gamlen | 03/06/2020

Migration and Mobility after the 2020 Pandemic: The End of an Age?
Working paper | Alan Gamlen | 02/06/2020

COVID-19 and Challenges to the Future of Work
Blog | Nilanjan Raghunath & Tony Tan | 22/05/2020

COVID-19 and its Impact on Remote Work
Blog | Nilanjan Raghunath & Tony Tan | 20/05/2020

Immobilia
Blog | Nick Van Hear | 15/05/2020

Locked In after Lockdown: Migrant Workers in Wuhan
Blog | Willy Sier | 12/05/2020

Safety is a political issue: Migrant domestic workers in China after the lock down
Blog | Chaoguo Xing | 7/05/2020

The digital home office: householding revisited
Blog | Chris Hann | 1/05/2020

Point-to-point labour transport: the post-lockdown securitization of mobility
Blog | Biao Xiang | 22/04/2020

Low-skilled migrants after COVID-19: Singapore futures?
Blog | Steven Vertovec | 21/04/2020

Big Data, epidemiology, & emerging challenges for migration research
Blog | Kenneth Horvath | 16/04/2020

No more ‘back to normal’ – ‘normal’ was the problem: thoughts on Coronavirus
Blog | Bridget Anderson | 6/04/2020

Empty Houses in Locked-down London
Blog | Mayanka Mukherji | 8/04/2020

COVID Flash Talks

“COVID Flash talks” is a student-led webinar series supported by COMPAS and the Department of International Development, which aims to create a space, where academic debate can be started around the current COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative accompanies the Coronavirus and Mobility Forum, with each talk featuring a senior researcher and a junior researcher/student presenting articles relating to new research and trends that have come about with COVID-19.