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The Covid-19 caesura and the post-pandemic future

Joelle Abi-Rached

In the wake of the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring a public-health emergency on January 30, 2020, countries around the world began to shut down, in order to combat Covid-19, an infectious disease caused by a novel and lethal coronavirus. Governments took over the national production of vital items, such as ventilators; they seized vital stocks of masks and confiscated hotels to lodge people who needed to isolate and quarantine away from their families; they allowed ‘telemedicine’ or telehealth services en masse as an attempt to decelerate the circulation of the virus; and “Zoom,” a cloud-based communications technology, now widely used for conferences, meetings, and online education, became a household name in a matter of weeks. Amid global chaos and uncertainty, it became crystal clear that we had moved into unchartered territory and finally jumped into the twenty-first century. The world was suddenly facing old problems in new guises: a political crisis (national, ideological as well as geopolitical), an economic crisis of unprecedented proportion since the Second World War, an ecological crisis, and above all, perhaps, a crisis of imagination and thought.