Social movements in and beyond the COVID-19 crisis

April 28, 2020

     By Maria Faciolince     

Interface Journal are putting together brilliant compilations of readings by/on social movements and how they are dealing with the current Coronavirus pandemic. We will be republishing these compilations as they are rolled out, to join efforts in amplifying the voices of activists and those organizing communities through the crisis. They have a call for submissions below, please write in! And if you’re interested in this topic, listen in on the ‘Social Movements & Mobilisation in times of Global Pandemic’ webinar happening today.

We’re tired of hearing stories about the virus and the crisis that only feature governments and corporations, and where we only appear clapping or as corpses. So we’re asking activists around the world to share stories of what movements are doing where they are.

Movements have been: pushing states to take action, fighting for the needs of marginalised groups, developing mutual aid, organising strikes and rent strikes – and fighting for a better world afterwards. This stuff matters!

This is the first batch of stories to drop – we’ve more in the pipeline and will add them as soon as we can! If you’d like to send us something, please email sutapajacob AT gmail.comlaurence.cox AT and lesley.j.wood AT Details at the bottom of the page.


Lynn Ng Yu Ling, What does the COVID-19 pandemic mean for PinkDot Singapore? (21 April)

Sobhi Mohanty, From communal violence to lockdown hunger: emergency responses by civil society networks in Delhi, India (20 April)

Ashish Kothari, Corona can’t save the planet, but we can, if we learn from ordinary people (16 April)


Peterson Derolus, Coronavirus, mouvements sociaux populaires anti-exploitation minier en Haïti (18 avril)

Lesley Wood, We’re not all in this together

Jeremy Brecher: In coronavirus fight, workers are forging an emergency Green New Deal [Via Labor Network for Sustainability]


Federico Venturini, Social movements’ powerlessness at the time of covid-19: a personal account (18 April)

Michael Zeller, Karlsruhe’s “giving fences”: mobilisation for the needy in times of COVID-19 (20 April)

Laurence Cox, Forms of social movements in the crisis: a view from Ireland (14 April)

Ben Duke, Gig economy workers’ movements (13 April)


Yariv Mohar, Human rights amid covid-19: from struggle to orchestration of trade-offs (19 April)

URGENCI, Community Supported Agriculture is a Safe and Resilient Alternative to Industrial Agriculture in the Time of Covid-19 (7 April)

Jeremy Brecher, Strike for your life! [Via Labor Network for Sustainability]

More to come!

Other people doing similar things:

  • Daraja Press blog “Organising in the times of Covid19” (video / audio interviews with activists)
  • RC47 Social Classes and Social Movements – Changing solidarities and collective action in times of pandemic webinar (video of the event)
  • Global Tapestry of Alternatives – Dialogue on Alternatives in the Time of Global Crises (webinar series)
  • Abolition Journal blog space as a site of distributing information from the front lines of abolitionist, anti-capitalist, anti-racist, anti-colonial, and other pertinent struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic (link)

Call for stories on struggles around the virus

The crisis provoked by the coronavirus (and then shaped by all the usual power structures, forms of inequality, cultural hierarchies etc. of our societies) landed in a world that was full of struggle, full of social movements, full of activism. In many different ways, activists have sought to shape how their societies and states respond, while top-down responses have created new problems and sites of struggle. And as many people have said, the future after the virus is still to be fought for. But what does that mean in practice? 

“Activists have sought to shape how their societies and states respond, while top-down responses have created new problems and sites of struggle.”

In the present crisis, some movements and activists are running close to or past the point of burnout from having to fight too many fires at once, while others are stuck, trapped, repressed or unsure how to move, and others again are experiencing “just one more thing” to deal with – more death, more poverty, more fear, more repression, more everyday struggle to survive.

We’ve decided that one thing we can contribute is to set up a space to talk about “what’s going on where we are” – specifically, what our movements and other movements are doing in our own country, city, region, neighbourhood… The idea is to share a bit of what’s happening across different spaces and across movements so we might find some ideas and inspiration in what each other is doing – and of course, as always, build connections and think forwards. 

Interface are looking for contributions (max 2,000 words, but we’re open to discussion!) focussed on what movements are doing where you are around the crisis. We’re open to longer, more reflective pieces but you may want to save those for the special issue we’re working on – submission details here. With your permission, we’ll also include the short pieces in our special issue.

Write us something short about movements where you are, using some or all of these headings:

  1. Movements already going on before the virus
  2. Lessons learned from previous collective actions that inform how activists respond to the crisis
  3. Civil society struggles to get states to take action
  4. Campaigning to get the specific needs of particular groups / communities taken into account 
  5. Solidarity economy and mutual aid initiatives and their connections to other movements
  6. Struggles developing within the crisis
  7. Longer-term perspective: what might the crisis mean for movements and the possibility of a better world?

Send us an email with a one-paragraph pitch (sutapajacob AT gmail.comlesley.j.wood AT and laurence.cox AT Feel free to copy Maria from Power Shifts here on FP2P at maria.faciolince AT

Featured image: Sapara indigenous people, fighting to save Amazonian territory (Ecuador), Aug 2019 © Ashish Kothari