CUSP, Psychology, Psychology in the world

The Psychology of Global Crises: A virtual conference


At the end of May, a new kind of academic event took place. The Psychology of Global Crises: State Surveillance, Solidarity and Everyday Life was a conference about events like the Covid-19 pandemic, organised to fit with the circumstances that the virus has imposed. Academics could not travel or meet in person, so they gathered online, and you can now access the presentations and discussions on youtube.

The Psychology of Global Crises: State Surveillance, Solidarity and Everyday Life conference was a large and entirely virtual conference organized at short notice by renowned professionals and academics from across the globe, including professors Martin Dege and Maria Medved from The American University of Paris. The conference included 65 keynote talks from scholars across the globe, including prominent international figures like Kenneth Gergen, Michelle Fine, Mark Freeman and Erica Burman.

With an agenda very much influenced by the Covid-19 pandemic, the conference aimed to ask critical questions such as: Which voices are heard in a crisis? Who gets to define the situation as a crisis? What can the social sciences contribute to understand crises, the current global situation and expectations for the future? 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?

The School of Psychology and Counselling at the OU was well represented at the conference. One member of the Culture and Social Psychology group (CuSP), Dr Kesi Mahendran, organised a panel on ‘Crisis, Covid-19 and new contingencies of agentic citizenship in Europe. Dr Mahendran’s own presentation was on populism and citizens’ representations of home. Another member of CuSP, Dr Eleni Andreouli presented on ‘suspended citizenship’. The third member of the panel was Dr Simon Goodman (De Montford University) who spoke on the contingent nature of refugee citizenship.

Professor Paul Stenner from CuSP gave a key note talk entitled ‘The Social Psychology of Global Crisis Through the Lens of Liminal Experience: Stuck in the Middle with Coronavirus’. This talk, along with most other talks from the conference, is available on Youtube at the following address:

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