CfP: Covid-19: The Intimacies of Pandemics

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Call for Papers
August 20, 2020 to September 15, 2020
Subject Fields: 
African History / Studies, Humanities, Sexuality Studies, Social Sciences, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Call for ABSTRACTS for 2021 AGENDA Journal


CfP: Covid-19: The Intimacies of Pandemics


Contributors are invited to submit manuscripts on the above topic from the point of view either of researchers or activists. Abstracts and contributions must be written in English and in a style accessible to a wide audience. Please submit abstracts to or


No later than 15th September 2020


Agendahas been at the forefront of feminist publishing in South Africa for the past 35 years and raises debate around women's rights and gender issues. The journal is designed to promote critical thinking and debate and aims to strengthen the capacity of both men and women to challenge gender discrimination and injustice. The Agenda journal is an IBSS/SAPSE accredited and peer reviewed journal.


GUEST EDITORSMoshibudi Motimele (Wits) and Danai S Mupotsa (Wits)


Conceptual Rationale:


In the midst of narratives that attempt to present the spread and effects of COVID-19 as the ‘great equaliser’ that infects indiscriminately, the effects as we have seen them have been disproportionately shaped by gendered power relations.  COVID-19 has indeed disrupted the traditional ways in which technologies of capitalism, sexism, heterosexism, homophobia, transphobia and racism generally operate but what has remained constant is the way that the effects and affects of these technologies are compounded on those who disproportionately suffer at the hands of exploitative labour practices, unregulated informal economies, sexual and gender-based violence, the burden of care work and domestic responsibilities as well.


Intimacy – generally understood as closeness and connectedness in a benevolent sense, under lockdown takes a violent and often murderous turn. This turn traverses unequally across the class divide with black working class people finding themselves most suffocated not only by the virus but also the pernicious and elitist responses given by state and other transnational actors. Intimacy then, read as the forced closure of public space and intensification of proximate personal (often overcrowded) space, under conditions of Pandemic makes crude the feminist argument that the personal has always been political. Intimacy from this perspective, refers to a way of organising the world; alerts us to the forms of relation in our public and private lives, and shapes the ways we interact with forces of power. 


Intimacy also generally petitions a sense of visibility, mutual vulnerabilities and open sharing. In May 2020, UN Women reported 243 million women were subjected to sexual and/or physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner in the last twelve months. Here, “intimate” seems to intimate purely physical proximity. Beyond this gratuitous violence against women that becomes hyper visibilised in these moments are equally important additional impacts that potentially disappear from dominant discourses because they do not match the spectre of violent death. These effects and affects have a direct impact on the increased vulnerability of women, children, LGBTQI people, migrant workers and refugees. Responses to them show that non-statist actors remain closest to the ground and more relevantly positioned to provide adequate recourse and assistance.


For example, as a result of Lockdown, unclear messaging from the state and heightened anxieties about infection, there has been a massive decline in access to sexual and reproductive services in clinics and public hospitals. Impediments to access to sexual and reproductive health services include: fear and anxiety around contracting COVID, the lack of transport to get to clinics and hospitals under lockdown, the lack of food security –which has  a direct impact on the effectiveness of medications, there is also the lack of confidentiality as a result of requiring evidence of where one is going or has been and for what reasons (forced disclosure) to go out which means having to divulge ones status to confrontational police and communities. Vulnerable people have been placed in positions where they are forced to become visible to the state, and other actors in order to survive, in ways that also compromise their ways of making life. 


Responses to the pandemic have been led by governments, civil society organisations as well as public health officials, who stand at the coalface of essential service provision.  Ordinary people have also been at the centre of public discourse about the radical ways everyday life has been impacted by the disease. And while this pandemic has reshaped many aspects of our social, economic and political lives, it has also highlighted the endurance of existing inequalities, as well as the importance of people across various margins to participate in reflections of the socioeconomic and political shifts at hand, as well as the ways that we might be made more awake, or aware of the ways that people on the margins have already known and anticipated this planetary crisis. 


Many social practices, forms of intimacy and relations have been disrupted, or forced to take new shapes. Health and economic systems have been placed under new forms of pressure. And as we adjust to social distancing and isolation on a planetary scale, people have tried to make sense of these shifts as fear, rumour, laughter, anxiety and uncertainty mediate our experience of this pandemic. It is urgent to understand this unprecedented pandemic that has reshaped all aspects of our lives from a feminist perspective.


The Intimacies of Pandemics, means to signal the multiple forces affecting people’s lives during the Covid-19 planetary crisis. We call on authors to think through the following:

  • The hypervisibility of womxn’s vulnerability 
  • The forms and shape of vulnerabilities felt by trans, non-binary and intersex people 
  • COVID-19 and the stigma around sexual and reproductive health services
  • Gender and informal economies
  • Gender and hunger/starvation
  • Improvising from the margins: The role of community collectives and non-governmental organisations in relief efforts
  • Intersectionality and the negotiation of multiple pandemics
  • Masculinities
  • Gender and domestic relations
  • Homemaking/ home evictions
  • Forms of intimacy/ relation people have engaged in under the conditions of the pandemic
  • Sex and sexuality 
  • Migration, mobilities and labour

Agenda aims to question and challenge current understandings and practices of gender relations. We contribute to the development of new knowledge about how gender relations can be transformed. In particular we contribute to the development of women and their capacity to organise themselves, reflect on their experiences and to write about this. We invite contributions from feminist and gender scholars, activists, researchers, policymakers, professionals, educators, community workers, students and members of womxn’s organizations and organizations interested in and concerned with gender issues to reflect on the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.



Submission Guidelines for Agenda Journal

The following guidelines are intended to assist authors in preparing their contributions. 



Agenda invites contributions from feminist and gender scholars, activists, researchers, policy makers, professionals, educators, community workers, students and members of womxn’s organizations and organizations interested in and concerned with gender issues.


Submissions should contribute to developing new thinking and fresh debate on women’s rights and gender equality in Africa and other developing countries.


Writers need to:

  • Write in an accessible and understandable style;
  • Inform, educate or raise debate;
  • Try to pin down reasons for contradictions and point out differences of opinion;
  • Provide an analysis and an argument;
  • Be logical;
  •    Be sensitive to but not uncritical of how gender, class and race affect the reporting of an event;
  •    Ensure the introduction encapsulates the contents of the piece and that it attracts the reader’s attention by either making a controversial statement, providing a thought-provoking or new insight into the subject;
  •    Utilize a gender or feminist lens.


We publish articles in various formats, which range from 6,000 words for more theorized articles, which form the main reference pieces in an issue, to shorter pieces with a minimum of 1,500 words.


Formats of Contributions

  • Article (6 000 words max) should be based on new research and contain analysis and argument.
  • Briefing is an adaptable format for writers to write on a wide range of subjects (2 500 - 4 000 words)
  • Focus examines an aspect of a chosen theme in detail (4 500 words max)
  • Profile looks in detail at an organisation, project or legislation, or a person (2 500 - 3 500 words)
  • Report-back covers reports on meetings, conferences workshops etc
  • (1 500 - 4 000 words)
  • Review typically reviews books or films (1 500 - 3 000 words)
  • Interview can record a conversation among a group of people or a one-on-one interview in which the writer asks the interviewee/s questions on a subject (1 500 - 3 000 words)
  • Open Forum is a vehicle for debate and argument, or pieces which deal with argument and difference of opinion on a subject/issue (2 500 - 4 000 words)
  • Perspective is an adaptable format in which writers are able to use a more personal reflective, narrative style (1 500 - 3 000 words)


Contributions should be submitted in the following format:

File type:         Microsoft Word

Font:                Arial

Size:                 10 pt

Line spacing:   single

Justification:    left

Referencing:    Harvard style



All submissions should have the following:

Abstract:         200 - 300 words 

Keywords:       approx 5 keywords

Bio:                  100 - word author biography, including email address

Bio picture:     head-and-shoulders photo in 300 dpi jpeg format

Contributors are encouraged to provide photos and/or graphics to illustrate their submission


Selection and Editing Process

All submissions are peer reviewed. Articles, briefing and focus pieces go through a double blind peer review process, while all other contributions are reviewed by at least one member of Agenda’s Editorial Advisory Group. 


Reviewers comment on the suitability of a text for publication in the Agenda journal, as well as provide comments to help develop the piece further for publication if required. Contributors will be asked to rework the paper accordingly. 


On resubmission, the piece will be assessed by the Agenda editor and a final decision made regarding its publication in the journal. 


Please note that Agenda reserves the right to edit contributions with regard to length and accessibility or reject contributions that are not suitable or of poor standard.


Agenda also invites the submission of poems on the topic of women’s rights and gender.


Please note, as per Agenda’s policy, writers who have published in the journal within the last two years

WILL NOT BE ALLOWED to publish – to allow new writers to publish in Agenda.





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Telephone: +27 (0)31 304 7001/2/3 : Fax: +27 (0)31 304 7018 : Website:


Board Members: Lee Stone (Chair), Dr. Barbara Boswell, Prof. Grace A Musila, Dr. Gabisile Mkhize, Prof. Sibusiso Moyo, Asha Moodley (EAC), Prof. Relebohile Moletsane (EAC)

Contact Info: 

Please email abstracts to or

To contact the Special Issue editors, please email