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It is always a plea­sure, in times of war or peace, to give the floor to our friend Car­ol Mann.

Covid 19 as a war (or not)
I: Where and who is the enemy?

Research­ing the fate of women in war zones for over a quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry has led me to reflect on the con­stant ref­er­ences to war by our politi­cians dur­ing this ongo­ing Covid 19 pandemic.

I asked Azra, my dear friend in Sara­je­vo to com­pare the sit­u­a­tion with the siege she had expe­ri­enced 25 years ago. She laughed: “Politi­cians talk­ing about a war have no idea about what they are say­ing. Yes, being over 65 my hus­band and I are not per­mit­ted to leave our flat. So our daugh­ter or the neigh­bours deliv­er food parcels to the door. But this time, we can com­mu­ni­cate with our fam­i­ly all the time, we have enough food and espe­cial­ly we can have projects.That’s the difference”

While it is obvi­ous that there is no actu­al armed con­flict in this par­tic­u­lar instance, is what is going on an actu­al war. In which case, who exact­ly is the iden­ti­fi­able ene­my? Cer­tain­ly not just this evanes­cent but vicious virus.

Mar­tial rhetoric has been used by lead­ers all over the world as jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for extreme and often con­tra­dic­to­ry mea­sures, eras­ing the dif­fer­ences between per­son­al and pub­lic spaces, policed in a man­ner that would cause riots at any oth­er time. In this par­tic­u­lar instance, this resem­bles the “war of ter­ror”, which has allowed author­i­ties to inter­vene with­out warn­ing against indi­vid­u­als and in their homes.

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Carol Mann

Car­ol Mann is a soci­ol­o­gist and spe­cial­ist in the study of gen­der and armed con­flict, and an asso­ciate researcher at L.E.G.S. Paris VIII.

She is also the founder of the asso­ci­a­tion Women in War

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