In times of crisis, when institutions of power are laid bare, people turn to one another. Pandemic Solidarity collects firsthand experiences from around the world of people creating their own narratives of solidarity and mutual aid in the time of the global crisis of Covid-19.
The world’s media was quick to weave a narrative of selfish individualism, full of empty supermarket shelves and con-men. However, if you scratch the surface, you find a different story of community and self-sacrifice. Looking at eighteen countries and regions, including India, Rojava, Taiwan, South Africa, Iraq and North America, the personal accounts in the book weave together to create a larger picture, revealing a universality of experience - a housewife in Istanbul supports her neighbour in the same way as a teacher in Argentina, a punk in Portland, and a disability activist in South Korea does.
Moving beyond the present, these stories reveal what an alternative society could look like, and reflect the skills and relationships we already have to create that society, challenging institutions of power that have already shown their fragility.
What People Are Saying
'Just what we need so desperately in this moment. How we come out of this pandemic will shape the future of humanity. Now, as never before, we have to break the deadly logic of capital. A beautiful and important book.' - John Holloway, author of 'Change the World Without Taking Power'
'In the midst of a global crisis, we must listen, learn, and build with people from around the world - the essays and insights collected here help us do just that. A crisis is a turning point, and this valuable book can serve as a guide to a better future.' - Astra Taylor, director of 'What Is Democracy?'
'These stories teach us of the enormous potential for love and resistance in a world threatened by apocalyptic capitalism.' - Mike Davis, author of 'City of Quartz'
'Mutual aid, solidarity and commoning become most visible during periods of deep crises. This book inspires us all on the path to social change.' - Massimo De Angelis, author of 'Omnia Sunt Communia: On the Commons and the Transformation to Postcapitalism'
'If you take a break from doom-scrolling to read Pandemic Solidarity you’ll learn how we launched the largest mobilization of mutual aid projects in history' - Indypendent
‘Helps us to rethink and re-imagine an egalitarian society where no one is left behind’ - ‘LSE Review of Books’
About the Authors
Marina Sitrin is an Assistant Professor of sociology at SUNY Binghamton, New York. She is the author of Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in Argentina (AK Press, 2006); Everyday Revolutions: Horizontalism and Autonomy in Argentina (Zed Books, 2012), the co-author of They Can’t Represent US! Reinventing Democracy from Greece to Occupy (Verso, 2014).
Colectiva Sembrar is an international group, formed of mostly women, activists and writers.
Khabat Abbas is an independent journalist and video producer based in Rojava, with interests in Kurdish folklore songs and researching feminism.
Carla Bergman is a mother, filmmaker and budding poet who loves to zoom in on the in-between happenings and issues, and bust binaries.
Chia-Hsu Jessica Chang is a Ph.D. candidate at Binghamton University, who thinks about the politics of de-naming and re-naming, the technologised body, and Asia as method.
Lais Duarte is a Ph.D. candidate at The City University of New York (CUNY), a proud pet mama, and dreams of and fights for a socially equitable and loving world.
Raquel Lima is an anti-racist activist and loves crossroads. She is a poet, art-educator, and Ph.D. Candidate at Coimbra University.
Eleanor Finley, an activist-anthropologist, lives in Italy, and is an editor at ROAR Magazine.
Han Gil Jang is a writer, a visual artist, and a translator currently based in Seoul.
Neil Howard is an academic and activist based at the University of Bath, in the UK.
Midya Khudhur is a humanitarian worker, Fulbright Alumna, a researcher in Kurdish cinematic and literary studies.
Liz Mason-Deese is a translator, researcher, cartographer and feminist activist living in Buenos Aires.
Boaventura Monjane is a Mozambican postdoctoral fellow at the International Research Group on Authoritarianism and Counter-strategies of the RLS, based at PLAAS/UWC, South Africa.
Nancy Piñeiro is an Argentinian translator engaged in and writing about counter-hegemonic translation and socio-environmental struggles.
Seyma Ozdemir is a doctoral student, researching migration, political economy, and feminist theories.
Ariella Patchen is a student, artist, activist, and dreamer about what it means to build a revolutionary new world.
EP & TP are involved in anti-authoritarian assemblies in Greece.
Magal Rabasa lives in Portland, Oregon with her family. She writes about and makes radical autonomous media.
Debarati Roy is a Ph.D. student at SUNY Binghamton, New York, where she engages untold stories of migration, belonging, and social and cultural mobility.
Emre Sahin is a participant and researcher of social movements and revolutionary transformation in Rojava.
Ji Young Shin teaches comparative literature at Yonsei University and explores and participates in minority communes in East Asia.
Marina Sitrin, is a mother, dreamer of a free world, and participates and writes about societies in movement.
Vanessa Zettler, Brazilian, living in Sao Paulo where she does community activism through music, and is a teacher, sociologist, translator, and writer.
Rebecca Solnit is the author of more than twenty books on feminism, western and indigenous history, popular power, social change and insurrection, hope and disaster, including A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster (Penguin, 2010) and Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (Haymarket, 2016).
Table of Contents
List of Figures
Foreword by Rebecca Solnit
Introduction by Marina Sitrin
About Colectiva Sembrar
PART I - GREATER MIDDLE EAST (ROJAVA, TURKEY AND IRAQ)
1. Communal Lifeboat: Direct Democracy in Rojava (NE Syria) - Emre Sahin and Khabat Abbas
2. “Capitalism Kills, Solidarity Gives Life”: A Glimpse of Solidarity Networks from Turkey - Seyma Özdemir
3. Solidarity Network in Iraq During Covid-19: This Time the Enemy is Invisible - Midya Khudhur
PART II - SOUTH AND EAST ASIA (TAIWAN, SOUTH KOREA AND INDIA)
4. Sharing Spaces and Crossing Borders: Voices from Taiwan - Chia-Hsu Jessica Chang
5. Standing in Solidarity with Those Who Must Refuse to Keep Social Distance: Disability Activism in South Korea - Ji Young Shin (translated by Han Gil Jang)
6. Rethinking Minority and Mainstream in India - Debarati Roy
PART III - SOUTHERN AFRICA (MOZAMBIQUE, SOUTH AFRICA AND ZIMBABWE)
7. Confronting State Authoritarianism: Civil Society and Community-Based Solidarity in Southern Africa - Boaventura Monjane
PART IV - EUROPE (PORTUGAL, GREECE, ITALY AND THE UK)
8. On Intersectional Solidarity in Portugal - Lais Gomes Duarte and Raquel Lima
9. Solidarity Flourishes Under Lockdown in Italy - Eleanor Finley
10. Solidarity Networks in Greece - EP and TP
11. Viral Solidarity: Experiences from the UK - Neil Howard
PART V - TURTLE ISLAND (NORTH AMERICA)
12. Turtle Island - carla bergman and magalí rabasa with Ariella - Patchen and Seyma Özdemir
PART VI - SOUTH AMERICA (ARGENTINA AND BRAZIL)
13. Argentina: Injustices Magnified; Memories of Resistance Reactivated - Nancy Viviana Piñeiro and Liz Mason-Deese
14. On Grassroots Organizing: Excerpts from Brazil - Vanessa Zettler
Concluding to Begin - Colectiva Sembrar
Notes on Contributors