Protest against the delegalisation of abortion in Rapperswil, Switzerland

On 25 October 2020, Poles living in Switzerland also gathered to protest against the delegalisation of abortion, the nationalist government, the radical right-wing organisations and the power of the Catholic Church in Poland. The gathering took place symbolically in front of the Poland Museum in Rapperswil, which celebrated its 150th anniversary with important officials from Poland.


Am 25. Oktober 2020 versammelten sich auch die in der Schweiz lebenden Pol*innen, um gegen die Delegalisierung der Abtreibung, die nationalistische Regierung, die rechtsradikalen Organisationen und die Macht der katholischen Kirche in Polen zu protestieren. Die Zusammenkunft fand symbolisch vor dem Polen-Museum in Rapperswil statt, das sein 150-jähriges Bestehen mit wichtigen Funktionären aus Polen feierte.

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Poland rules abortion due to foetal defects unconstitutional

Poland already had one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe. Now it is being tightened even more. The Polish Supreme Court has paved the way for a further tightening of the restrictive abortion law. The presiding constitutional judge, Julia Przyłębska, said in a ruling that existing legislation – one of Europe’s most restrictive – that allows for the abortion of malformed foetuses was “incompatible” with the constitution. In doing so, she granted a motion by right-wing conservative members of parliament. These saw the abortion regulation as a violation of the constitutionally anchored protection of life. The court agreed with this. Because the Polish Constitution guarantees a right to life, Julia Przyłębska, added, terminating a pregnancy based on the health of the fetus amounted to «a directly forbidden form of discrimination.» After the ruling goes into effect, abortion will only be permissible in Poland in the case of rape, incest or a threat to the mother’s health and life.

Women’s rights and opposition groups reacted with dismay. «Today’s judgement puts the health and lives of women in Poland at great risk and violates Poland’s obligations under international human rights treaties to refrain from retrogressive measures that roll-back women’s rights to sexual and reproductive health care,» said Leah Hoctor, regional director for Europe at the Center for Reproductive Rights. «This judgement is the result of a coordinated systematic wave of attacks on women’s human rights by Polish lawmakers, and represents their latest attempt to ban abortion in Poland,» said Esther Major, senior research adviser at Amnesty International. «Legal prohibitions on abortion do not prevent abortion or reduce the rates of abortion; they serve only to damage women’s health by pushing abortions underground or forcing women to travel to foreign countries to access abortion care they need and to which they have a right. Although all women may be affected by this cruel judgement, marginalized groups of women who cannot afford to travel will disproportionately suffer the consequences of the judges’ actions today.»

Hundreds of people took to the streets in cities across Poland on Thursday night, protesting against the tightening of the country’s abortion laws. Police met the protesters with pepper spray in some places, and at least 15 demonstrators were arrested.

The ruling came as Poland grapples with a second wave of coronavirus cases and restrictions limit the possibility for mass protests. On Friday, October 22th, the prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, announced that restaurants and bars would close for two weeks and public gatherings would be limited to five people.


Interview with Leah Hoctor, regional Director for Europe, Center for Reproductive Rights in Euronews Today from 22.October 2020.


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“Le commun se construit, c’est politique”

Krisis as a word has two meanings. The Greek origin, krisis, which means “that which stands out”, refers to a dramatic vision of the crisis. As the philosopher and sinologist François Jullien argues, this is the conception adopted by Europeans. For the Chinese, the word is more open: it is not tragic, but strategic. It covers the joint idea of danger and opportunity; if we know how to seize this opportunity, we can find a way out. In the interview with La Vie, François Jullien puts words on the current health crisis and opens up ways to overcome it.

This article is excerpted from the special issue of La Vie “Renaissances. Comment se relever des grandes crises”, on newsstands on August 6, 2020.

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Corona-Krise? Care-Krise!

Kurz nach dem Ausbruch der Covid19-Pandemie im März 2020 stiess das Gesundheitssystem in vielen Ländern an seine Grenzen – und machte nicht nur sichtbar, wie unterfinanziert, sondern auch überlastet die Spitäler und weitere Gesundheitsbetriebe bereits vor der weltweiten Gesundheitskrise waren. Das Feministisches Streikkollektiv Zürich warnt in einem Aufruf davor, Pflege und Gesundheit auch in der Schweiz als Ware zu (be)handeln und die Fürsorge «effizienten» zu gestalten. Zudem machen sie auch darauf aufmerksam, dass Care-Arbeit noch immer von FTIQ* (Frauen*, Trans*, Inter* und gender-queeren* Menschen) geleistet wird und diese systematisch unterbezahlt sind: In der Pflege im Spital, bei der Spitex, im Alters- und Pflegeheim, in der Reinigung, in der Betreuung in der KiTa und im Kindergarten leisten sie unter zum Teil prekären Arbeitsbedingungen «systemrelevante» Arbeit.

Damit die Krise nicht länger auf Careworker*innen abgewälzt wird, fordern sie dazu auf, sich zusammenzutun und gegen Stress und schlechte Löhne zu kämpfen:



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Does Gaia strike back?

Images of how nature seemed to come alive after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic went viral during the lockdown. In an excerpt from her new book published in the Swiss magazin “Das Magazin”, cultural scientist Elisabeth Bronfen asks what is the attraction of these images. And what role do pictures and stories play in making the pandemic as such tangible and understandable? With reference to Donna Haraways, Elisabeth Bronfen argues that we need to be aware of the complex interdependencies of the system nature.

Her book “Infected: Contemporary Information on Pandemic and Culture” (“Angesteckt: Zeitgemässes über Pandemie und Kultur”) will be published by Echtzeit Verlag at the end of August 2020.

The 3D installation “Gaia” by British artist Luke Jerram can be seen at the Greenwich + Docklands International Festival in London from August 28 to September 12, 2020.

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The LGBT+ Community in Poland: A Letter of Solidarity and Protest

On Friday, 7 August 2020, 48 persons were arrested in Warsaw – in some cases quite brutally – and detained on the grounds that they had participated in a violent illegal gathering. In fact, they were engaged in a peaceful protest in solidarity with an LGBT+ activist named Margot, who had been arrested for damaging a homophobic campaigner’s van. Her group had also placed rainbow flags over statues, including a statue of Christ. These actions were neither “hooliganism” nor “provocations,” as Poland’s government-run media insist, but rather desperate acts of resistance against degrading homophobic hate speech. The van is one of many similar vehicles parading outrageous claims around the cities of Poland: equating homosexuality with pedophilia, and asserting that gays are the source of diseases and a threat to children. Efforts to stop this well-funded hate campaign by legal means had led to nothing.

The broader context is the persistent use of anti-LGBT+ rhetoric by Polish politicians and media, attacks against “LGBT ideology” in the recent presidential campaign, preceded by the emergence in many municipalities and districts of “zones free of LGBT ideology,” allegedly defending the safety of families and children, and last year’s violent attacks against Equality March in Białystok. Homophobic aggression in Poland is growing because it is condoned by the ruling party, which has chosen sexual minorities as a scapegoat with no regard for the safety and well-being of citizens. Margot is, in fact, a political prisoner, held captive for her refusal to accept indignity.

To stop targeting sexual minorities, to stop supporting organizations that spread homophobia and to hold accountable those who are responsible for unlawful and violent arrests of August 7, 2020, you can sign the following letter of solidarity and protest:

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Call for Papers for the International Seminar, “People of the Cold War World: Refugees, Émigrés, and Displaced Persons”

The Ural Institute of Humanities is proud to announce a call for papers for the international seminar on the problem of refugees, émigrés and displaced persons during the Cold War. The seminar will be held on 30 November 2020.

The Cold War is not only the period of confrontation between the two superpowers, international crises and nuclear arms race. In fact, the Iron Curtain affected the conciousness of individual people, their mindset and behaviour patterns. People of the Cold War period often had to make uneasy choices and take life-changing decisions in the most extreme conditions and circumstances. Sometimes, as a result of such decisions, they were forced to leave their homes, flee their countries and stay in refugee camps. The seminar focuses on such figures of this period of geopolitical tension as refugees, ‘displaced persons’ and émigrés.

The seminar is seeking submissions related to the following topics:

  • People of the Cold War world: attitudes and values;
  • From World War II to the Cold War: the roots of the problem of refugees and ‘displaced persons’;
  • Diplomacy of the Cold War era: the problem of refugees and ‘displaced persons’ and the search for its solutions;
  • The second wave of emigration from the USSR and international migration flows of the Cold War period

Languages: English, Russian.
The seminar will be held on-line.
To participate in the seminar, please send your personal details (name, degree, position, contact information) and abstracts (not more than 1 thousand characters) to the following e-mails: and Submission deadline: 1 October 2020.

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The Haitian director Raoul Peck, who has lived in France for more than 50 years, reacts to recent episodes of racist police violence in France and places them in the history of modern capitalism and colonisation. Echoing the anger expressed by the riots in the US and protests in France such as “#JusticepourAdama”, his text denounces the denial and tetanisation of French society regarding structural racism, which takes its most brutal shape in police violence and fuels the anger that erupts today in burning streets.

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Solidarity Means Dismantling the System Everywhere

The Progressive International envisions the ongoing protests in the US as another step toward a strengthened international solidarity. In the wake of recent uprisings in India, Lebanon or Chile, the “Black Lives Matter” movement appears as another opening to learn from each other’s struggles against racist state violence beyond borders and to join forces for “collective and communal liberation”. Fights against state violence, i.e. against the police, the prison system and the military, are part of the dismantling of the US hegemonic power, thereby pointing to advances toward a “decolonized and multipolar world”.

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Sur la permanence des mécanismes d’étranglement

For the philosopher and theorist of postcolonialism Achille Mbembe, the death of a black man either by police violence or by the coronavirus are both symptoms of the “pathogenic moment” that humanity is enduring nowadays. Indeed, racism also functions as an ecosystem that “encloses bodies, imaginations and lives”, depriving them of the right to breathe and spreading virally. In this sense, “the universal struggle against racism,” writes Mbembe, “is, more than ever, a constitutive dimension of any struggle for the regeneration of living beings as a whole.”

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Who were the n***** of Europe? The 50th anniversary of the “Schwarzenbach Initiative against Foreign Alienation” in Switzerland and the anti-racist protest movement in the USA

On 7 June 1970, the Swiss people rejected the Schwarzenbach initiative (“Schwarzenbach-Initiative gegen Überfremdung”), which aimed at limiting the quota of “foreigners” in Switzerland. This initiative, which is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary at a time when protests against racist police violence in the United States are resonating around the world, remains crucial for Swiss asylum policy and its society’s relationship with the so-called “foreigners”. This situation provides Kijan Espahangizi the opportunity to review what the concept of “racism” means in Swiss society: rather than using the categories of US-American racism based on the experience of slavery, Espahangizi emphasizes the concept of “foreigner” (“Ausländer”), encouraging a more differentiated understanding of racism in the Swiss political system.

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The American Nightmare

Ibram X. Kendi, Director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, explains in his text «The American Nightmare» how the nationwide protests and unrest in the United States are a result of black America’s living nightmare. For the professor and author of the book «How to Be an Antiracist», to be black and conscious of anti-black racism is to stare into the mirror of your own extinction.

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In seiner «das Magazin»-Kolumne fragt Kurator Hans Ulrich Obrist danach, wie ein Leben nach dem «Lockdown» aussehen könnte, das einerseits mit der grösst möglichen Distanz zu anderen Menschen geführt werden, andererseits dennoch ein Leben in Gemeinschaft zu lassen sollte. Eine mögliche Antwort halte, so Hans Ulrich Obrist, möglicherweise der Theoretiker und Schriftsteller Roland Barthes bereit, der in seiner Vorlesereihe «Wie zusammen leben» 1976 am Collège de France den Begriff der Idiorrhythmie anhand des des Klosterlebens auf Berg Athos in der Ägäis entwickelte. Dort hatte sich eine Form der Einsiedelei herausgebildet, die es jedem Mönch erlaubte, sein Leben nach seinem eigenen (idios) Rhythmus zu führen, ihn aber in eine Gemeinschaft mit klaren Strukturen einband.

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Online Conference «The Psychology of Global Crises: State Surveillance, Solidarity and Everyday Life» – Call for Contributions

Online conference at May 20–30, 2020 at The American University of Paris,

The current global Covid-19 crisis is unprecedented in many ways. Yet, ‘crisis’ as a phenomenon is everything but new. In the past years, we have been in the middle of the so-called ‘refugee crisis,’ the European sovereign debt crisis, the subprime mortgage crisis and the 2007-2008 global financial crisis. Some attest to a more general crisis of liberal democracy, an eventual crisis of capitalism, or a ‘population change crisis.’ Climate change is typically identified as a central factor in the emergence of future global crises. Beyond economically driven crises, we experience crises on the social and cultural levels: the Occupy movement, #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, Cambridge Analytica, the global surveillance disclosures, etc. On a smaller scale, we witness crises of various academic disciplines, famous among them perhaps the replication crisis in psychology. Some go further and argue that the social sciences are in a state of perpetual crisis at least since the beginnings of the 20th century. Last not least, psychologists identify and treat crises on an individual level: loss of workplace, loneliness, depression. Every crisis phenomenon maps its territory and calls for its experts and expert discourses, measures and publicly communicated courses of action.

Sparked by current developments, the theme of this conference is ‘crisis’ in all its varieties. Who is speaking to the current crisis and with what advice? Which voices are heard? What can the social sciences contribute to understand crises, the current global situation and expectations for the future? How can we critically examine the concept of ‘crisis.’ Who defines a situation as a crisis? Who benefits from and who is negatively affected by crises? How do crises change local communities? How do they affect the individual agency and the relationship of citizens to one another?

In times of crisis, let us come together in the virtual world and discuss the phenomena at hand.

Presentations could focus on but are not limited to:

  • crisis, victims, power struggles
  • agency and activism during crises
  • health and inequality
  • how crises implement politics
  • solidarity in times of crises
  • nationalism and crises
  • the history and genealogy of the concept
  • the philosophy of crisis
  • globalization and geopolitics

Please submit an abstract to your contribution (max 200 words). The entire conference will take place online. This allows us to handle a large variety of contributions. You are welcome to experiment. Talks can be delivered asynchronously (you can create a recording in advance). This makes sense specifically if you want to include other media etc. You are asked to be present at the time your talk is streamed to allow for a (synchronous) discussion of your ideas. Synchronous talks are also possible. We actively encourage creative and experimental formats.

The deadline for submission is May 10, 2020. Submit your proposal using the form on the website

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The Universal Right to Breathe

After the release of his most recent book Brutalisme (Paris, 2020), Achille Mbembe continues his reflection on the impact of technological capitalism on organic matter and the transfiguration of human bodies through digitisation. In this context, the spread of Covid-19 appears as a continuation of the war modernity wages against life, humanity being already threatened with suffocation before the virus. More than a biological condition, Mbembe writes, breathing should therefore be seen as a common ground, that is as a universal right – of human beings and of all life.

The original version of Mbembe’s text was published in French at AOC:

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Learning from the virus

Paul B. Preciado, a pioneer in the fields of queer studies and philosophy of the body, wrote a text on the political disease management of Covid-19 after he became infected with the coronavirus in mid-March. In this text he discusses the concept of immunity in its political and medical dimension and shows how the policies of exclusion are now being applied at the level of the individual body. He also notes a continuity and radicalization of Foucault’s theses on biopolitical surveillance in the disciplinary society in dealing with past epidemics. The text is a pre-publication which is included as a postscript in Preciado’s book “An Apartment on Uranus – Chronicles of a Transition“, which will be published on 18 May 2020.


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Reflections on the Plague and Social Distancing

From self quarantine to social distancing, the corona virus has an impact on our work, social and cultural routines. How did it come to this? In his text on the corona crisis published in the NZZ, Giorgio Agamben points out that the disease already existed in our society and that the currently growing need for a religion is being satisfied by science. He also notes that we have lost the common faith. There is only faith in the naked biological life. But Agamben also asks about the political order based on the concept of social distancing and what political implications this social phenomenon of the passive mass society we are now confronted with will have.

See also:

Reflections on the Plague, March 27, 2020:

Distanziamento sociale, April 6, 2020:


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The French economist and philosopher Frédéric Lordon envisions the current “disaster” as a way out of a “capitalist prehistory”. Enhanced health care system, unconditional basic income, consideration for non human existences and equal access to as much sources of knowledge as possible are the conditions for a “human society” to now make history. His statement of principles lays the foundations of a “life together” (vie commune) that must be renewed from top to bottom.


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Against Agamben, is a democratic biopolitics possible?

The Greek Marxist scholar and activist Panagiotis Sotiris relies on Foucault’s late work about the “care of the self” to envision democratic or communist biopolitics through collective care, effort, coordination and solidarity. From such a perspective, responsibility would replace discipline and sociality would be transformed rather than suspended:

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Considering CoVid-19 a “communovirus”, the French philosopher Jean-Luc Nancy ponders the official Chinese communism as well as Marx’s notion of individual property and self-realisation. By isolating us, the “communovirus” makes us experience the “shared sense of our uniqueness”, which, according to Nancy, reveals our “most intimate community”:

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Faire commun, faire du commun. Le défi global post-covid 19

According to the political philosopher Soumaya Mestiri, the state of exception caused by the outbreak of the CoVid-19 pandemic gives way to new conditions of solidarity: it shifts the “public sphere”, both as a matter of space and of political responsibility, towards that of the “common”. Referring to Giorgio Agamben, Michael Hardt, Antonio Negri and Judith Butler, she calls upon “a new common ‘contract’ that is fundamentally horizontal because it takes charge of naked life, first and foremost.” In times of CoVid-19, to produce “common”, or to “common” (communer), thus becomes a duty.


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Mit Foucault die Pandemie verstehen

For the Swiss historian Philipp Sarasin, the inflated use of Foucault’s concept of “biopolitics” is not quite appropriate to describe the political measures induced by the spread of CoVid-19. On the basis of three infections (leprosy, the plague and smallpox) appearing in Foucault’s writings, he nevertheless distinguishes three hypotheses to approach forms of power and of governance operating throughout the world:

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Cured to the Bitter End – Roberto Esposito’s response to Jean-Luc Nancy

On the website Antinomie, Giorgio Agamben, Jean-Luc Nancy and Roberto Esposito started a debate on the coronavirus epidemic. In his response to Jean-Luc Nancy, Esposito brings the problem of comparability into the discussion. There is not one biopolitics and there is not one state of emergency, but there are always many different biopolitics at work simultaneously. Espositio sees the concept of biopolitics as a way of understanding and analysing the diverse intertwining of different fields under the paradigm of life support, that is, the health not of individuals but of the population. It is precisely in the virus, in its spread as well as in its ‘combating’, that the intertwining of medical, political, technological, economic, social and psychological spheres under one paradigm, which was already prevalent before the pandemic, becomes apparent.

All texts are also translated into English and can be found together on European Journal of Psychoanalysis.

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L’épreuve politique de la pandémie

Considering the impending political impacts of the CoVid-19 pandemic, the sociologist Christian Laval and the philosopher Pierre Dardot urge to clearly differentiate between state sovereignty and public services. It is precisely through the notion of “public responsibility” that vital solidarity and global commons need to be rethought.

Christian Laval and Pierre Dardot are the authors of Commun. Essai sur la revolution du XXIème siècle (La Découverte, 2014).

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Italians are singing on their balconies to create community

From the silence of the Italian cities a choir or a concert rises. Every few hours, somewhere in the country, people step out of the isolation that the government has prescribed for them because of the spread of the coronavirus – out onto their balconies or windows and join in songs, all together, across streets and squares. Sometimes accompanied by improvised drummers, sometimes by trumpeters, tenors or guitar players. Each with his own talent.

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Sollen wir aufgrund der Hysterie auf die Frauen*demo verzichten?

Wegen des Coronavirus hat das Bundesamt für Gesundheit vorübergehend Veranstaltungen mit über 1’000 Personen untersagt. Vom Versammlungsverbot betroffen ist auch die für den 7. März angekündete Frauen*demo in Zürich. Das Frauen*bündnis Zürich will die Demonstration aber dennoch durchführen. Mit der Begründung: «Wir machen uns gerade in ‹Krisenzeiten› für Feminismus stark!» Als «zutiefst unsolidarisch» und «revolutionär dumm» bezeichnet der Tages-Anzeiger die Ansage, dennoch zur Demo aufzurufen. Auch die Neue Zürcher-Zeitung findet die Teilnahme an der Frauen*demo, aus mehreren Gründen bedenklich: «Echte Solidarität bedeutet in diesem Fall Verzichten», schreibt die Autorin des NZZ-Artikels mit dem Titel «Unbewilligte Frauendemo ist der falsche Weg». Es sei störend, dass «die wichtigen Themen von einigen selbsternannten Feministinnen für ihre Selbstinszenierung instrumentalisiert werden.»

Einige Student*innen und Doktorand*innen der Universität Zürich sprechen sich jedoch für die Aufrechterhaltung der Frauen*demo aus. Unter anderem aus folgenden Gründen:

«Das Verbot vom Bund ist sicher eine gerechtfertigte Massnahme zur Eindämmung der Verbreitung der Ansteckung. Es werden sicher weniger Leute kommen, aber jede*r sollte sich treffen dürfen. Wir leben ja nicht in einem Polizeistaat, oder?» – Milos Lazovic, Master-Student an der UZH

«Ich unterstütze die Aufrechterhaltung der Frauen*demo trotz des Versammlungsverbots. Die in offiziellen Medien veröffentlichten Reaktionen benutzen das Virus, um feministische Ansprüche erneut zu diskreditieren: Der Vorwurf der “Unsolidarität” klingt nach einer gewöhnlichen rhetorischen Strategie, um die feministische Solidarität als “gewissenlos” und inkonsequent hinzustellen. Um über Solidarität überhaupt nachzudenken, ist es nicht nötig, radikale feministische Aktionen, so “revolutionär dumm” sie einigen erscheinen mögen, an den Pranger zu stellen. Dadurch wird im Gegenteil Freiraum für allerlei sexistischen Kommentaren geboten – eine Diskursoperation, die wiederum zweifellos für Unsolidarität gegenüber feministischen Protesten in der Öffentlichkeit sorgt. Jedoch prägt Sexismus unseren Alltag nicht weniger als das Virus und dieses kann kein Grund sein, internationale sozialpolitische Anliegen auszublenden.» – Louise Décaillet, Doktorandin an der UZH

«Ich bin für die Demo.» – Tadeusz Koczanowicz, Doktorand an der UZH

«Jede Frau* (und auch jeder Mann*) sollte für sich selbst entscheiden können, ob sie (oder er*) an der Frauen*demo teilnehmen und sich für die Anliegen der Frauen* einsetzen möchte. Eine Teilnahme sollte zu keinem Zeitpunkt zu einer Gewissensfrage werden. Zudem hilft es, zusammen zu kommen, sich über Ängste und Sorgen auszutauschen, sich gegenseitig zu unterstützen und der Krise als Gemeinschaft zu begegnen. Die Frauen*demo ist ein solcher Ort des Austausches und der Gemeinschaft.» – Sandra Biberstein, Master-Studentin an der UZH

«Bei der Kritik an der Frauen*Demo vermischen sich ehrliche Sorge um die Gesundheit der Beteiligten und politisches Kalkül der Veranstaltungsgegner*innen. Eine verbotene Demo mit einem weiteren Verbot kippen zu wollen, ist dabei paradox. Jede Frau* kann selbst entscheiden, ob sie an diesem Wochenende trotz der Gefahr des Corona-Virus streiken möchte. In meinen Augen ist es die richtige Entscheidung des Kollektivs, das Streik-Angebot aufrecht zu erhalten.» – Dominik Fischer, Master-Student an der UZH


Weitere Artikel zum Thema:

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Wie Hanau an der Gemeinsamkeit baut

Rassistisch motivierte, rechtsterroristische Anschläge wie in Hanau im Februar 2020 kommen vermehrt in die Öffentlichkeit, doch eine gründliche Aufklärung hinkt meist noch – der Fall NSU ist hier bestes Beispiel für die Verharmlosung rechter Gewalt und Ideologie. Die Hanauer antirassistische Aktivistin Newroz Duman stellt sich die Frage, wie Trauer und Wut umgewandelt werden können, um rassistischem Gedankengut entgegenwirken zu können. Der Schmerz soll dabei als Anfang dienen, um ein gegenseitiges Kennenlernen über alle gesellschaftlichen Unterschiede hinweg zu initiieren.


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Coronavirus and HIV Parallels: On Racializing and Queering Illness

Discriminatory panic and ill-informed policy do little to effectively curb the spread of disease. Hannah Yore shows in her article how a culture of fear and alienation around the coronavirus can dissuade individuals from seeking treatment and promote the spread of misinformation. The discourse is reminiscent of the ways in which queer people, and in particular gay Black men and trans women of color, have also been scapegoated as threats to public health.

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Eklat um César-Verleihung an Roman Polanski

Ungeachtet heftiger Proteste im Vorfeld ist der französisch-polnische Regisseur Roman Polanski am 28. Februar 2020 in Paris mit dem César, dem höchsten französischen Filmpreis, für die beste Regie ausgezeichnet worden. Aus Protest gegen diesen Regiepreis verliessen einige Zuschauer*innen den Saal, darunter die Schauspielerin Adèle Haenel. Eine Auszeichnung an Polanski wäre so, als würde man allen Missbrauchsopfern ins Gesicht spucken, hatte sie im Vorfeld in einem Interview mit der «New York Times» erklärt.

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Zweiter Reclaim-Democracy-Kongress vom 27. bis 29. Februar

In der Roten Fabrik in Zürich findet vom 27. bis 29. Februar der zweite Kongress “Reclaim Democracy” statt. Der vom Denknetz Schweiz organisierte Kongress bietet 50 Ateliers und fünf Plenarveranstaltungen, die auf die kollektive Rückgewinnung des politischen Diskurses fokussieren und dabei den Systemwandel und globale Gerechtigkeit im Blick haben.

Mehr Informationen unter

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Chasing a Ghost – 30.01.20 bis 03.02.20 @ Gessnerallee Zürich

Den choreografischen Archetyp des Duetts in Frage stellend, inszeniert Alexandra Bachzetsis in ihrem jüngsten Stück Chasing a Ghost diverse Doppelgänger aus Körpern, Sounds, Räumen und Bildern, in einem Spektrum aus Gewalt und Begierde. Im Zentrum dieser Dualität steht der Begriff des Unheimlichen – „the uncanny“: ein entfremdetes Phänomen in einem scheinbar wohlbekannten Kontext. The uncanny verweist aber auch den potentiellen Akt der Transgression. Unsere unterdrückten Impulse und unser Unterbewusstsein können jederzeit in die jeweilige Realitätserfahrungen einbrechen.

Chasing a Ghost umfasst eine Choreografie für fünf Tänzer*innen (einschließlich der Künstlerin selbst), eine von zwei Pianisten live gespielte Originalmusikpartitur, und ein Bühnensetting aus Bewegungen und Bewegtbildern. Trotz ihrer ständigen Beziehung zueinander, werden die Verbindungen dieser Elemente absichtlich gestört. So verwandelt Bachzetsis das Duett in beunruhigende Abbilder und die Bewegung zwischen zwei Körpern in ein ewiges folie-à-deux, das schonungslos den eigenen Blick auf andere und uns selbst herausfordert.

Alexandra Bachzetsis, Zürcher Kunstpreisträgerin 2018, ist eine Grenzgängerin zwischen darstellender und bildender Kunst, zwischen kritischer Recherche und Tanz. Der Ausgangspunkt ihrer Arbeiten sind meist Populärkultur, Massenmedien oder Internetphänomene. Dabei verhandelt sie wie die erotische, affektive und mikropolitische Macht der Geste zurückerobert werden kann. Sowohl die Tate Modern, die Documenta 14, das MoMA NY, das Art Institute Chicago und das Centre Pompidou koproduzierten ihre letzten Arbeiten.

Dorota Sajewska ist für die Dramaturgie des Stückes verantwortlich.


Bild: Mathilde Agius

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Polish Protests since 2016: new photographic archive online

At the beginning of 2020, the Polish initiative «Archive of Public Protests» (Archiwum Protestów Publicznych) went online. The platform offers photographs of protests and gatherings in mainly Warsaw streets, beginning in 2016 with the Black Protest for women‘s rights and the Committee for the Defense of Democracy (KOD) protests.

However, as photographers Agata Kubis and Paweł Starzec remark, the legislative session of the national-conservative and fundamental party Law and Justice (PiS) brought public protests only to a more mainstream consciousness and urged self-declared non-political citizens to take action. However, protests and demonstrations have a longer history and ongoing urgency in postcommunist Poland, just to mention the yearly «Manifa» demonstration on International Women‘s Day or the LGBT Pride «Marches of Equality» (Parady równości).

After logging in, the archive also offers photographic insight into right-wing and conservative marches.

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Will Poland follow the authoritarian path?

After winning the national elections with 43.59% of the vote and an independent majority in the Sejm (the lower house of Polish parliament), Poland’s right-wing ruling party Law and Justice proclaimed the continuation of ‘good change’—the slogan summarizing all of the supposed benefits made on its initiative. These include centralizing control over the judicial system, academia, publicly financed cultural institutions, and NGOs. The ruling party seems determined to monopolize the state and to marginalize any voices in the public sphere that don’t share its nationalist, Catholic and authoritarian vision of the Polish past and future. The leaders of the party also promised new social programs in order to continue what they call the “Polish route to the welfare state”.

The united conservative-liberal opposition that ruled Poland between 2007 and 2015 received 27.40% of the vote, which is a bit less than what the parties comprising it received in the last elections. Donald Tusk, the longtime leader of the biggest party in the coalition and the longest-serving prime minister of the Third Polish Republic, resigned from running for the presidency in 2020. His decision to become the leader of the European Peoples Party put an end to the conservative – liberal opposition’s hopes that he would return to save Poland from the threat of authoritarianism and ongoing undermining of the rule of law by Law and Justice, which has led the state to the margins of the European Union. Subsequently, the conservative-liberal coalition seems a bit lost—oscillating between criticizing the ruling party from free-market positions and standing for the rule of law and stronger ties with the European Union while remaining generally unable to clearly criticize the government’s Catholic and nationalist ideas. The leader of the biggest party in the coalition (who was known for being more of an organizer than generating ideas) has resigned; whoever takes his place will have to re-invent the whole formula of opposition if the coalition wants to save its position as the main force opposing Law and Justice.

The third political force in the new parliament with 12.56 % of votes is the united left, which was not present in the Parliament for the last four years due to the split of votes in 2015 between the new left and post-communist social democrats. These two parties, together with a center-left party led by Robert Biedroń, a LGBTQ+ activist and member of the European Parliament, formed a new leftist coalition that openly stands for equal rights for all and for the welfare state as a clear alternative to the current government in the future. The left is in the best position to criticize the government because it presents a more holistic concept of the welfare state, while also being more engaged in the fight for the rule of law as well as women’s rights, reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ rights.

The fourth party elected to the Polish Parliament with 8.55 % of votes is the Polish People’s Party, which ran in the elections as the coalition of the old conservative farmers’ party (represented in every term of Parliament) and a populist right-wing movement formed by Paweł Kukiz, a former rock musician who fights for introducing more referendums and single-member voting districts. During his political career he has used hate speech openly in his arguments against accepting refugees; in the last parliamentary term, some far-right and fascist politicians were elected from his movement. Though in the past he referred ironically to the Polish People’s Party, stressing its roots in the communist political scene, he didn’t have a problem with joining a coalition that aimed to represent conservative values beyond the political conflict between Law and Justice and the liberal-conservative opposition. The coalition gained fewer votes than the party and movement received in the last elections and doesn’t seem to bring any new ideas or visions to Polish politics.

The last group elected to the parliament with 6.81 % of votes is called the Confederation. The party is a loose coalition of various far-right and neoliberal groups, represented by people who support such ideas as introducing monarchy, overthrowing the republic of the round table (a term for the political system formed from a consensus between the communists and the opposition in 1989 that led to democratic changes in Poland), strengthening the Catholic Church’s role in the public sphere, imposing an absolute ban on abortion and emergency contraception, using hate speech against Muslims, Jews, and the LGBTQ+ community, criticizing the European Union and any ideas of wealth redistribution, and introducing special laws against LGBTQ+ activism and NGOs that receive foreign funding (an initiative modelled on laws introduced in Russia a few years ago). With these ideas the members of the Confederation seek to take votes from Law and Justice and pressure the ruling party from the right. So far they haven’t played any role in the new parliament, and only make fools of themselves.

In practical terms, not a lot has changed, although the ruling party has lost control over the Senate (the Upper House of the Polish Parliament) to a conservative-liberal opposition coalition, the leftist coalition, the Polish People’s Party, and independent senators. The Senate elected a speaker from the conservative-liberal opposition named Tomasz Grodzki, who before entering politics was a surgeon and professor of medicine in Szczecin. Since he criticizes many authoritarian steps taken by Law and Justice and doesn’t allow the abuse of legislative procedures, which often occurred with new problematic laws in the last term, public television started a campaign trying to discredit him as a corrupt doctor. The campaign was not stopped even when some of his former patients stated in public that they were offered money to accuse him of taking bribes. Although none of the charges have been verified, public television, which has not been so propagandistic since 1989, continued the campaign of lies. It did so not only to discredit the speaker, but also to draw public attention away from the scandal surrounding the President of the Supreme Audit Office, who was nominated by the ruling party last year. After an investigation by the Central Anticorruption Bureau for false declarations of financial interests, hiding his financial standing and undocumented sources of income, the Bureau passed the case to the prosecutor.

The situation could change if President Andrzej Duda (of Law and Justice) loses the upcoming elections, but half a year remains until then. His opponent from the conservative-liberal opposition will be Malgorzata Kidawa-Błońska, who is more liberal-conservative than the other way around. In the past she was the spokesperson for Donald Tusk’s government and for a short time was also speaker of the Sejm; she is also a direct descendant of two very important politicians of the interwar period from opposing political camps (a socialist president and a right-wing minister who reformed the economy). Duda’s opponent from the left will be Biedroń, a charismatic LGBTQ+ activist who was the first openly gay mayor of a major Polish city, which he saved from a financial crisis. A Catholic journalist and host of a popular talent show will be running as an independent candidate, as will the leader of the Polish People’s Party. The Confederation candidate is still unknown due to a very complicated internal electoral system. Duda is ahead in the polls but has a much less significant lead than the previous president did at the end of the first term before losing the election. Also, most polls are conducted for the first round, but the elections will likely be determined in the second round. If Duda lost with the upper house controlled by the opposition, most of the laws leading Poland down an authoritarian path could be stopped.

Text: Tadeusz Koczanowicz

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Programm of the Symposium «Crisis and Communitas»





NOVEMBER 14 & 15, 2019

event hall, Limmatstrasse 270, 8005 Zurich

Crisis is a term increasingly heard these days – climate crisis, migration crisis, crisis of representation, identity, masculinity… Contemporary societies often react to crises by installing mechanisms of classification and order. Identitarian communities perceive themselves as an antidote to personal and social crises.

Our goal is to ask how crises bring about movement and the transgression of borders – be they social or racial, cultural or political, state or institutional borders. Thus, we invite to think about new forms of communitas, of inclusionary bonding across discursive borders. Instead of searching for common traits, it embraces diversity and difference through the interaction of bodies and their communicative performativity. Migration, shifting contexts and bodily movement are explored as a trajectory of self-empowerment and agency. Crisis frames new political utopias.

In three panels, we are exploring the aesthetics and politics of commonality, the way bodies and affects constitute the commonal power, and how knowledge migrates in the context of arts. The programme includes presentations by an international group of researcher and is accompanied by a keynote lecture by Susan Buck-Morss, lectures by curators Adam Szymczyk and Marc Streit, as well as the screening of the film Via Carpatia (2018).



November 14, 13:00 to 17:45


Introduction – Dorota Sajewska (Zurich)

1. Potent Collectivities: Aesthetics of Solidarity – Jeremy Gilbert (London)

2. Speculative Communities: Designing Contact Zones in Times of Eco-Eco-Crisis – Malgorzata Sugiera (Krakow)

3. Crisis of Communitas or the Extension of «Our» World – Nina Seiler (Zurich)

Discussion 14:45 to 15:15

Coffee break 15:15 to 15:40

4. The Avant-Garde of Destitution – Mikkel Bolt (Copenhagen)

5. How Attitudes Escape Form – Adam Szymczyk (Zurich)

Discussion 17:00 to 17:45





November 14, 18:30 to 20:00



Sharing Image, Sharing Time by Paweł Mościcki (Warsaw)

November 15, 9:00 to 10:15

Discussion 9:45 to 10:15

Coffee break 10:15 to 10:30



November 15, 10:30 to 13:00

1. Divided We Stand or Revolutionary Love in the Making – Katarzyna Bojarska (Warsaw)

2. Inventing Skins. Reinventing Community – Eduardo Jorge de Oliveira (Zurich)

3. Affective Community. Towards a Performative Theory of Historical Agency – Dorota Sajewska (Zurich)

4. Polish Transformation: Community Crisis and Question of Ephemerality in Arts – Dorota Sosnowska (Warsaw)

Discussion 12:30 to 13:00

Lunch Break 13:00 to 14:00



November 15, 14:00 to 18:15


1. Emotional Identification – Mieke Kolk (Amsterdam)

2. We refugees and we the people – Tadeusz Koczanowicz (Warsaw/Zurich)

3. La Commune (Paris, 1871) Fabienne Liptay (Zurich)

Discussion 15:30 to 16:00

Coffee break 16:00 to 16:25

4. Crisis and Communitas in Southern Italian Tarantism – Anja Dreschke (Frankfurt) & Michaela Schäuble (Bern)

5. «The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is: it’s to imagine what’s possible» – Marc Streit (Zurich)

6. Interactive archive of communitarian thinking – Sandra Biberstein (Zurich)

Discussion 17:30 to 18:15

Apéro 18:15 to 18:45



VIA CARPATIA (PL, CZE, MKD 2018) – 75’

With an introduction/discussion by Kasper Bajon (Fuerteventura)

November 15, 18:45 to 20:30

Piotr and Julia have been planning their holiday for months. Unfortunately their plans are ruined by Piotr’s mother: she wants to bring home Piotr´s father, who has been staying for months at one of the refugee camps on the Macedonian-Greek border. Despite his strong doubts Piotr agrees to take the challenge. And so instead of an all-inclusive holiday, the couple embarks on a tiring journey to the South, during which they will have to answer some fundamental questions…

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Rojava, Lost? Turkish Offensive Threatens to Destroy a Radical Democratic Experiment

Four million people, thousands of communes, a non-hierarchical social structure and a cooperative economy. That is Rojava. It is not only the autonomous region of northern Syria but also an experiment in democracy and equality.

Amid the destruction and deluge of the war in Syria, this remarkable experiment in grassroots democracy has taken root across a large swath of the country’s Northeast. Since october 9, this experiment is now under grave threat of being destroyed, as Turkey and its proxy forces lay siege to the area and Syrian regime forces have begun to return to the region.

Full Articles:

Rojava, Lost? Turkish Offensive Threatens to Destroy a Radical Democratic Experiment

Power to the people: a Syrian experiment in democracy

Europe could do more to stop the Turkish invasion of Rojava, but states fear a democratic revolution

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Refugee Tents That Collect Rainwater and Store Solar Energy

Since 2011, the Syrian Civil War created one of the most devastating humanitarian disasters in the world, with over 13.5 million Syrians internally displaced or are refugees outside Syria, according to the United Nations.

Inspired by the plight of Syrian refugees unfolding on her doorstep in the Middle East, visionary female artist Abeer Seikaly set to work to find a way of helping. The Jordanian architect, artist and designer created a supremely practical housing solution, came up with a design prototype.

Named ‘Weaving a Home’, this design uses a unique structural fabric composed of high-strength plastic tubing molded into sine-wave curves that can expand and enclose during different weather conditions, and also be broken down to allow an ease in mobility and transport.

Inspired By Syrian Refugee Crisis, Weaved Homes Collect Rain Water And Store Solar Energy

Inspiring Woman Invents Refugee Tents That Collect Rainwater and Store Solar Energy

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Climate activists hold funeral march for lost swiss glacier

More than 100 climate activists made a funeral march to the melted Pizol glacier on Sunday, September 22, in the eastern part of Switzerland. With this action they wanted to draw attention to the threat of climate change.

Pizol “has lost so much of its mass that, from a scientific point of view, it is no longer a glacier at all”, said Alessandra Degiacomi, of the Swiss Association for Climate Protection, one of the NGOs behind the funeral. According to Matthias Huss, a glaciologist at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, the Pizol glacier has lost up to 90% of its volume since 2006. He estimates that more than 500 Swiss glaciers have completely disappeared since 1850, of which only 50 had a name.

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Wrest tradition away from conformism. Walking Dnipro with Walter Benjamin in my head

The Transregional Academy held in June 2019 in Dnipro, Ukraine focused upon the topic “After Violence: The (Im-)Possibility of Understanding and Remembering”. Apart from keynote lectures and project workshops, the participants also explored the city space of Dnipro as a place of (non-)remembrance. Darja Klingenberg’s blog entry allows to participate in their encounter with Dnipro.


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Cholera fordert im Jemen weitere Todesopfer

Die Cholera-Epidemie im Kriegsland Jemen wütet weiter. In den ersten sechs Monaten dieses Jahres starben bereits 1.210 Menschen an der Infektionskrankheit, wie das Regionalbüro für den Nahen Osten der Weltgesundheitsorganisation WHO am Dienstag in Kairo mitteilte. Die Verdachtsfälle lagen bei über 823.000, davon 23 Prozent Kinder unter fünf Jahren. Laut WHO sind mittlerweile 22 der 23 jemenitischen Provinzen betroffen.

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Statista – Statecraft, Pioneer Usage and Representation

Within the vast empty spaces of the Haus der Statistik near Alexanderplatz in Berlin, STATISTA is testing whether working in the spirit of the Commons is an option even within today’s context of city development. With the aid of ten distinct playing fields, STATISTA generates artistic prototypes for a civil society built on collective principles.

The results of these artistic working processes will be made publicly visible during the STATISTA Presentation Week from September 11–16, 2019: Including neighbourhood initiatives, a cryptocurrency reflecting the wellbeing of bees, a facade design built for ecological inclusivity, and an international conference. Temporary usage, in this case, does not lead to gentrification, but to a form of urban renewal that is to the benefit of all.

For more information, visit:

Picture: © Victoria Tomaschko

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United by AIDS – An Exhibition about Loss, Remembrance, Activism and Art in Response to HIV/AIDS at mirgos museum

The extensive group show United by AIDS—An Exhibition about Loss, Remembrance, Activism and Art in Response to HIV/AIDS at mirgos museum sheds light on the multifaceted and complex interrelation between art and HIV/AIDS from the 1980s to the present. It examines the blurring of the boundary between art production and HIV/AIDS activism and spotlights artists who have been leading voices in this creative discourse, which remains vital today. The presentation gathers positions that illustrate the diversity of the (artistic) response to the HI virus and AIDS, with an explicit focus on works that address themes such as isolation, transformation, and the inexorable passing of time and mortality in relation to the politics of the body and representation. Since the introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy in the second half of the 1990s, AIDS has widely come to be seen as a phenomenon of the past, with little significance for the life of our societies today. On the global scale, however, deaths due to complications from AIDS still number almost one million per year. Divided into four chapters, the exhibition seeks to untangle the complex and diverse narratives around HIV/AIDS and discuss their fragility in a contemporary perspective.

Featuring works by over 40 artists, the exhibition will be curated by Dr. Raphael Gygax. The exhibition will be accompanied by the publication of the anthology United by AIDS – An Anthology on Art in Response to HIV/AIDS.

The exhibition takes place from August, 31 until November, 10,  2019 at Mirgos Museum

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The fight against child marriages in Malawi

Theresa Kachindamoto, the senior chief in the Dedza District of Central Malawi, wields power over close to 900,000 people… and she’s not afraid to use her authority to help the women and girls in her district. In the past years, she has annulled more than 3’450 child marriages, sent hundreds of young women back to school to continue their education, and made strides to abolish cleansing rituals that require girls as young as seven to go to sexual initiation camps.

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