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2022 Conference: Crisis Narratives and the Pandemic

For the full programme, please click here for the print version, or here for a PDF adapted for reading on screen.

You are warmly invited to attend the international conference Crisis Narratives and the Pandemic. The event will take place in Regensburg – and online – from 19-21 May. It is organized by the Center for International and Transnational Area Studies (CITAS) at the University of Regensburg (UR) and the Leibniz ScienceCampus Europe and America, a joint initiative of UR and the Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies (IOS).

The keynote lectureat 16:15 (CET) on 19 May is open to all. The speakers, Kristen Ghodsee and Mitchell Orenstein (University of Pennsylvania), will be presenting their talk – “Taking Stock of Shock: Social Consequences of the 1989 Revolutions” – online although there will be a public viewing in lecture theatre H44 at UR. If you would like to join the Zoom webinar for the keynote lecture, please find more details including the Zoom link here.

The conference is open to staff, students and members of the public. If you would like to attend the conference panels – whether in person or online – please register at This will help us to plan catering arrangements or enable us to send you the link for Zoom meeting for the conference panels. The panels start at 12:00 (CET) on 19 May in lecture theatre H44 at UR, while the sessions on 20-21 May will take place in lecture theatre H2 at UR. For the full programme, please click here for the print version, or here for a PDF adapted for reading on screen.

The conference aims to examine from an area studies perspective the variety of crisis narratives that have accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic. The postmodern age has been marked by a sense that narratives struggle to make sense of the world, especially as economic, ecological and now military and pandemic crises are of a global or indeed planetary scale that manages to disrupt even ‘grand narratives’. Hence, there are not only narratives of crisis but narrative itself seems to be experiencing crisis. What the contributors to this event aim to explore, however, is whether the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in further fragmentation of narratives, as well as deepening spatial, social and cultural divides, or whether we might be witnessing the emergence of new senses of shared meaning as the current conjunction of crises engenders significant regional, global and planetary reconfigurations.

Drawing on a multi-scalar perspective, the worldwide pandemic acts as a starting point for a global discussion of crisis narratives alongside their space-bound particularities, as well as their family resemblances. We look to understand how the various pandemic narratives affect the formation (or dissolution) of global, national and community solidarities and divisions. Could the pandemic crisis be the source not only of further global and regional frictions, but also a productive moment for a revival of global collaborations across multiple scales and actors?  

The event considers connections between narrative and spatialization, thus exploring how particular narratives of the pandemic configure, divide, delineate, or expand crisis spaces. Do narratives cross or draw boundaries, for example between nations or large- and small-scale regions? How do the spaces of the pandemic crisis relate to other crisis spaces and their determinants, such as poverty, socio-economic standing, development, and (medical) infrastructure? The contributions examine how pandemic narratives interact with, bring forth, or indeed push back and repress narratives relating to other ongoing and/or parallel crises in particular regions, across a broad geographic scope.



Thursday, 19 May | Lecture Theatre H44, University of Regensburg

12.00 – 12.15 Udo Hebel (President of the University of Regensburg): Welcome Message

12.15 – 12.45 Jochen Mecke (Speaker of the Board of the Centre for International and Transnational Area Studies, Member of the Board of Leibniz Science Campus). Introduction. Crisis – Narratives – Pandemics – Area Studies

Panel A: Expert Discourses and Counter-Narratives

  1. Anelia Kassabova (Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies with Ethnographic Museum – Bulgarian Academy of Sciences) - “The Kingdom of the Anti-Vaxxers”, “Fortress of the Anti-NATO”: Debates on Covid-19 Vaccination and Putin’s Regime War Against Ukraine in Bulgaria
  2. Önder Küçükural & Merve Aktar (Ibn Haldun University, Istanbul) - Dynamics of Vaccine Skepticism Among Turkish Youth
  3. Rahmi Oruç (Ibn Haldun University, Istanbul) - Swinging Between Two Pending Narratives: The Reception of Covid-19 Narratives Among Freshmen Students in Turkey

Chair: Robert Austin (University of Toronto)

Coffee break


Panel B: Reframing State-Citizen Relations

  1. Christopher Ankersen (New York University) - This Means War!  The Ramifications of Framing the Response to Covid19
  2. Owen Kohl (Indiana University, Bloomington / University of Chicago) - News of “Shitlibs” and Other Dramatis Personae in American Crisis Storytelling
  3. Iymon Abdul Majid (University of Kashmir) - Covid-19 Pandemic as a Weapon of the State against the Citizen

Chair: Gerlinde Groitl (University of Regensburg)

Coffee break

Keynote lecturevia Zoom webinar with public viewing in H44

Kristen Ghodsee and Mitchell Orenstein (University of Pennsylvania) - Taking Stock of Shock: Social Consequences of the 1989 Revolutions.

Coffee break


Panel C: Dis/located Narrative Spaces

  1. Alexander Pittman (Ohio State University)- The Power of Same Race Mentoring: Creating Space at a Predominantly White Institution (PWI) for Students of Color to Speak Their Truth During the Dual-Pandemics of Covid-19 and Racism
  2. Yamini Agarwal (Max Weber Forum for South Asian Studies, New Delhi) - Gender and Education: Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic in an Unauthorized Colony in New Delhi
  3. Avishek Ray (IFK International Research Center for Cultural Studies, Linz / National Institute of Technology, Silchar) - Walking as a Metaphor: COVID Pandemic and the Politics of Mobility

Chair: Jean-Marc Moura (Paris Nanterre / Leibniz ScienceCampus Visiting Professor)

Dinner in Weltenburger am Dom beer garden – self pay


Friday, 20 May | Lecture Theatre H2, University of Regensburg


Panel D: Everyday Crisis Narratives

  1. Jelena Markovic (Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies, Zagreb) - Homo Narrans and the  “Indescribability” of the Post-Covid Syndrome: Fear, Pain And Convalescents in Croatia
  2. Milos Jovanovic (University in Niš) - Narratives on Holy Communion in Serbia During the Pandemic
  3. Galina Gostrer (Munich University of Applied Sciences)– “I’m in a really bad mood today..“: Covid Talk at Work as a Relational Super-Strategy
  4. Katrin Herms (CNRS/Centre Marc Bloch) - An empirical Case Study on Crisis Narratives within Social Media during 2020

Chair: Ger Duijzings (University of Regensburg)

Coffee break


Panel E: Transregional Narrative Spaces

  1. Nina Pilz (University of Greifswald) - Regions as Pandemic Actors: Narratives on the Baltic Sea Region in Times of the Pandemic
  2. Martina Drescher (University of Bayreuth) - A discourse analytical perspective on Covid-19 narratives from Cameroon
  3. Lorella Viola (University of Luxembourg) - “Italy, for example, is just incredibly stupid now”. European crisis narrations in relation to Italy’s response to COVID-19
  4. Jana Sverdljuk (University of Agder) & Bastiaan Bruinsma (Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg) - COVID-19 vaccine narratives on Twitter: Discrepancies between the Global North and the Global South?

Chair: Paul Vickers (University of Regensburg / Leibniz ScienceCampus)

Lunch in the University Mensa (canteen) – provided by the organizers for panelists and chairs


Panel F: Refiguring Europe

  1. Gábor Egry (Institute of Political History, Budapest) - Swimming against the current of history? The relative failure of anti-Western official Hungarian Covid-19
  2. Matthias Morys (University of York, UK) - Can a new Covid-narrative make the euro more sustainable?
  3. Lukas Novotny (UJEP, Usti nad Labem) – Difficulties for tight-knit border communities during the COVID-19 pandemic: the case of cross-border commuters

Chair: Ulf Brunnbauer (IOS Regensburg / University of Regensburg)

Coffee break


Panel G: Cultural Crisis Narratives

  1. Anne Brüske (University of Regensburg) - Spatializing the Pandemic. Graphic Narratives of Crisis in Latin America
  2. Oleksandr Zabirko (University of Regensburg) - Post-Soviet “Zombification”: Between Literary Trope and Media Cliché
  3. Jochen Mecke (University of Regensburg) – Re-Making and Re-Spatializing Narratives of Crisis, Catastrophe and Everyday Life

Chair: Tamara Heger (University of Regensburg)

Reception and buffet


Saturday, 21 May | Lecture Theatre H2, University of Regensburg


Panel H: Pandemics, Biopolitics and Posthumanism

  1. Raul Cârstocea (Maynooth University) - Othering a Pandemic: The Scapegoating of Jews and Roma during Epidemics
  2. Romana Radlwimmer (Tübingen University) - Biopolitics and the Narrative of Colonial Illness
  3. Minerava Peinador (University of Regensburg) - A Feral Matter: Attempting to figure out the paradigm of Anthropocene through its strange creatures

Chair: Anna Steigemann (TU Berlin)

Coffee break


Panel I: Apocalypse, Atrocity or Utopia? Prospects beyond the Pandemic

  1. Richard Newell (Sarajevo) - COVID-19 and the Global Threats of Genocide and Mass Atrocity
  2. Thomas Lynch (University of Chichester) - Crisis and Apocalypse: Narrating the Pandemic
  3. Danielle Heberle Viegas (LMU, Munich) - COVID-19, utopia and socio-spatial dynamics in Brazil

Chair: Jochen Mecke (University of Regensburg)