The Bridge, a cultural magazine, is devoting two special issues – this issue and the next one – to the COVID-19 crisis. This is the greatest challenge of the present historic moment for the countries of the region like for the whole world. As such, it cannot not simply be anaysed from the perspective of health and safety, nor as it is so often done by contrasting this approach with its economic impact. Instead, the entirety of its social impact must be explored.
Understanding this phenomenon requires an interdisciplinary approach: reviewing its various dimensions: social, political, psychological, anthropological, cultural, and philosophical… Rudolf Virchow, who is considered the founder of modern pathology, or, according to his colleagues, the “Pope of medicine”, said that “every epidemic is a social phenomenon that has some medical aspects”.
We endeavour to shed light on this phenomenon from as many angles as possible. Thus, the purpose of these two special issues is to stimulate reflection on the COVID-19 pandemic crisis in all its complexity, and to better understand the situation created by this crisis in the region and in the world. We start from the conviction that understanding the situation in which we find ourselves is necessary in order for us not to feel
like passive objects in the face of a disaster, but conscious subjects in the face of a challenge.
The editorial of the last issue stated that this pandemic is a natural disaster. We are now complementing and refining this statement:the virus itself is a natural phenomenon, but its spread and mortality rate are social, economic and, consequently, political phenomena. The countries that are coping with the pandemic best are precisely those that have adequate social services, i. e. adequate public health service as well, and they are also places where citizens have confidence in the state and vice versa. This kind of trust exists when citizens have seen what the state does for them, when it provides them with good access to adequate social services, including sanitation, so trust is not only the result of a prosperous economy, but also a matter of political will. Furthermore, the way in which governments deal with the pandemic crisis, the measures they take, extraordinary measures of course, which, in turn, depend on the state’s trust in its citizens, affect all aspects of human life and the evolution of the society and of politics in the future. We think that this crisis is a multifaceted phenomenon that requires a broad public discussion, involving not only medical experts, but also specialists in other fields, especially
the humanities, and also including civil society organisations and activists.
Transtated by Alexandra Channer
This publication was made possible by the financial support of AMSHC. Its conent is responsibility of the authors, and does not reflect necessarily the opinion of AMSHC.
It was also supported by a grant from the European Cultural Foundation