On March 13th, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) determined Europe the active center of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. About a week later, more than 250 million people went under lockdown on the continent. Effects of the pandemic rippled into all aspects of life, eroding democracy in East-Central Europe, exposing weaknesses in the EU’s political and financial structure, and compounding challenges for migrant communities. REEI Interim Director Halina Goldberg spearheaded a collaboration with the Institute for European Studies, the Inner Asian and Uralic Resource Center, and the Polish Studies Center to convene a group of academics, journalists, and other experts online for a virtual conference examining these newly exposed challenges. The three-panel conference COVID-19 in Europe was held on Wednesday, April 29 via Zoom. A full recording of the conference was published on May 13 and is now accessible at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuExWCoH3YQ&feature=youtu.be.
“Democracy on Paper: COVID-19 in East-Central Europe,” the first panel, addressed political developments in East-Central Europe in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, including election interference in Poland, Hungary’s new law allowing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to rule by decree indefinitely, and Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s refusal to enforce social distancing. Social psychologist and political scientist Péter Krekó, Director of Political Capital, facilitated the conversation among panelists Jarosław Kuisz, Editor-in-Chief of the Polish political and cultural weekly Kultura Liberalna, BBC Central Europe Correspondent Nick Thorpe, and U Elena Korosteleva, Professor of International Politics and Jean Monnet Chair of European Politics at University of Kent.
Frank Hess, Director of the IU Institute for European Studies, led the discussion for “Fraying at the Seams? Europe, the European Union, and the COVID-19 Pandemic,” a panel that brought a richer, interdisciplinary focus to bear upon the response to the COVID-19 pandemic of the European Union and various European states. Panelists included Evi Hatziandreou, a scientific advisor at DIKTIO Network for Reform in Greece and Europe as well as a visiting scholar at the IU O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Anna Diamantopoulou, Member of the Greek Parliament for 11 years and European Commissioner for Employment, and Maryna Bazylevych, Professor of Anthropology at Luther College.
Lastly, “Outsiders & Quarantines: Migrants in COVID-19 Europe” explored the effects of gender, age, and other factors on migrant communities navigating challenges aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Led by Elizabeth Cullen Dunn, Professor of Geography at IU, the panel included Maurizio Albahari , Associate Professor of Anthropology at University of Notre Dame University, documentary film director and sociologist Olena Fedyuk, and award-winning journalist and filmmaker Priyali Sur, Founder of the Azadi Project.
Polish Studies Center Director Joanna Niżyńska opened and closed each panel, and Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies Dean Lee Feinstein offered welcoming remarks. The entire information packet regarding the conference may be found at any time at https://hls.indiana.edu/covid19-conference/.