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Solidarity work, duty to care, and commoning during the pandemic crisis

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Monday, November 20, 2023, 1:30 pm – 3:10 pm

The Inequalities and Democracy Workgroup of the CEU Democracy Institute cordially invites you to its public seminar.

If you would like to attend, please register here.

Please keep in mind that external guests will not be able to enter the building without prior registration.


The article explores civic solidarity acts during the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic. Based on qualitative research conducted in Hungary largely online, we explore how solidarity work initiated civic collaborations which reconfigured human efforts, time, and labour to mitigate crisis conditions in multiple ways and shaped the political potentials of solidarity practices. The inquiry captures different reasonings and practices in managing the division, valuation, and responsibilities in solidarity work. It also examines how the sense of the duty to care became an essential component in the pandemic operation of solidarians. We identify three different modes of articulating and organizing the duty to care in response to crisis conditions which embraced various engagements with the principles of commoning in solidarity spaces and beyond: reparative, sheltered, and transformative modes of commoning. Our inquiry also contributes to the discussions on the transformative potentials of civic experiments in collective solidarity actions in societies governed by an authoritarian regime, such as Hungary.

The seminar starts with a 25-minute paper presentation followed by comments from the discussant. Discussion open to the audience follows. To actively take part in the discussion, please read the draft paper beforehand. The paper is available upon request from the authors. 


Violetta Zentai is a cultural anthropologist with a PhD from Rutgers University (USA). She was co-director of the Center for Policy Studies at the CEU (2003-2020). She joined the Democracy Institute of the CEU based in Budapest in 2020. She is also faculty member of the Department of Public Policy and visiting faculty at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology of the CEU. She was one of the faculty members designing and launching public policy MA level teaching at the CEU. She is engaged in research focusing on ethnic and gender inequalities, European equality policies, and debates on post-socialist capitalisms and social exclusion/inclusion. 

Margit Feischmidt is research professor at Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre of Excellence where she leads the Department for Sociology and Anthropology in Minority Studies. She is visiting professor at the Nationalism Studies Program at CEU. She is also editor in chief of Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics and teaches as full professor at Institute for Communication and Media Studies, University of Pécs. With a doctoral degree from Humboldt University and habilitation from her home university she works on issues of migration, nationalism, ethnicity and minorities in East-Central Europe and generally. 


Eva Schwab is an OSUN Postdoctoral Fellow at the CEU Democracy Institute. In her project with the title “Environment and Securitization: Middle Classes vs. Slum Inhabitants in Participatory Forms of Urban Governance in Belgrade” she investigates civic vigilantism as a lens on how communal order and air pollution become sites for the articulation of middle classness in a city that is increasingly restructured to serve the interests of international capital. Before she has finished her doctoral dissertation with the title “Civilizing Waste: Work, Non-Work, and Urban Citizenship in the Making of Belgrade (1965-2018)” at the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology of the Central European University. Her research interests are in the area of historical sociology, (post-) socialist urbanization, and policing.

Andrea Krizsán is Lead Researcher for the Inequalities and Democracy Working Group and Senior Research Fellow at the Democracy Institute and Professor at the Department of Public Policy and the Gender Studies Department. She is interested in understanding inequalities and social justice related policy change in countries of Central and Eastern Europe. She works on different equality policy fields including gender equality policy, policies on gender-based violence, policies addressing ethnic inequalities and intersectionality. Her current research analyzes the politics of policy backsliding in times of democratic erosion and forms of civil resistance to such reversal. Her most recent book with Conny Roggeband is on opposition to the Istanbul Convention and its consequences (Palgrave 2021).