Erni engages in new projects centering on COVID-19

To respond to the COVID-19 crisis, Erni engages in 2 important initiatives:

Video for “Combating COVID-19: Hindsight 20/20?” (“抗疫之中  後見之明?”):

The Cultural Politics of COVID-19: A special issue of Cultural Studies. Edited by John Nguyet Erni & Ted Striphas.  Clearly, alongside the epidemic of infection, there is an epidemic of social and cultural meanings about health, disease-control, about isolation, racial difference, about death, and about power. The more we grapple with the pandemic, the more we realize that cultural questions have taken center stage. Very quickly, I spoke to the Editor-in-Chief of Cultural Studies, Ted Striphas, and we thought we needed to solicit from some of the best minds in our field to tell us how to think about the “culture wars” that are waging around COVID-19. In early May 2020, we launched a global call for papers for a special issue that we will co-edit for the journal. We ask cultural researchers to think about: How should we critically dissect the layers of meanings that make up the crisis? With what theoretical or conceptual tools? How can a liberal-humanistic approach help us find our way out of this crisis, alongside science and technology? Overall, how can cultural studies provide some intellectual guidance for our way forward? We will select about 25 best essays that are thought pieces to publish in the special issue. We hope the issue to contribute in the form of a historical record of key ideas for understanding our collective present and future reshaped by COVID-19. See the call for papers here:




An Online International Symposium on Humanities Research for Public Crises @ HKBU: COVID-19 AND BEYOND, CULTURALLY SPEAKING (15-16 September 2020) Convenors: John Erni (Fung Hon Chu Endowed Professor in Humanics) and Mette Hjort (Dean of Arts, Chair Professor of Humanities).  The premise of the international symposium is that the cultural dimensions of COVID-19 deserve the most assiduous attention. For if the crises of COVID-19 have as much to do with culture as they do with the workings of a new predatory virus, then the solutions must be sought not only in the sphere of epidemiological research, but also in the domain of culture.  The symposium is organized by the Hong Kong Baptist University, a liberal arts university in Asia. As its name suggests, HKBU is located in Hong Kong, a city that has largely managed to control the public health crisis. One of the densest cities on earth, Hong Kong’s border with China was never fully closed, nor was a fully-fledged lockdown ever imposed. And yet Hong Kong’s COVID-19 death rate remains low. A global city defined by a mix of Western and Asian cultural traditions, Hong Kong offers a compelling space from which to consider—on an international and comparative basis—how culture contributed to the crises of COVID-19 and what role culture must assume as we seek to extract ourselves from the grip of the virus. COVID-19 and Beyond, Culturally Speaking is designed to foster a series of conversations that will both clarify the challenges and begin to articulate solutions. More details forthcoming…