Interface, vol. 12, issue 1. Organising amidst COVID-19

A journal for and about social movements

Organising amidst COVID-19: sharing stories of struggles

This was our original call for stories on struggles around the virus
Interface, vol. 12, issue 1. Organising amidst COVID-19

Interface, vol. 12, issue 1. Organising amidst COVID-19

Now beautifully included as a reading in Oxfam’s “Power in the pandemic podcast!

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?

Interface exists “from and for” movements, coming out of our own need to reflect more on what we’re doing but with the purpose of feeding back into movements in one form or another. 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 decided that one thing we could contribute was 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.

  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?
Here are the stories as they came out, organised by region. Our special issue brings them together, often updated, with new material.

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’ve asked 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!


Clara Thompson, #FightEveryCrisis: Re-framing the climate movement in times of a pandemic (28 May)

Kerman Calvo and Ester Bejarano, Music, solidarity and balconies in Spain (28 May)

Micha Fiedlschuster and Leon Rosa Reichle, Solidarity forever? Performing mutual aid in Leipzig, Germany (26 May)

Arianna Tassinari, Riccardo Emilio Chesta, Lorenzo Cini, Labour conflicts over health and safety in the Italian Covid19 crisis (21 May)

Non Una Di Meno – Roma, Life beyond the pandemic (29 April)

Chiara Milan, Refugee solidarity along the Western Balkans route: new challenges and a change of strategy in times of COVID-19 (11 May)

Jenny Gkiougki, Corona-crisis affects small Greek farmers who counterstrike with a nationwide social media campaign to unite producers & consumers on local level! (7 May)

Miguel A. Martínez, Mutating mobilisations during the pandemic crisis in Spain (27 April)

Sergio Ruiz Cayuela, Organising a solidarity kitchen: reflections from Cooperation Birmingham (28 April)

Dagmar Diesner, Self-governance food system before and during the Covid-crisis on the example of CampiAperti, Bologna, Italy (28 April)

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)


Silpa Satheesh, The pandemic does not stop the pollution in River Periyar (17 May)

Roshanak Amini, Knowledge is power: virtual forms of everyday resistance and grassroots broadcasting in Iran (8 May)

Hongwei Bao, “Anti-domestic violence little vaccine”: a Wuhan-based feminist activist campaign during COVID-19 (28 April)

Ayaz Ahmed Siddiqui, Aurat March, a threat to mainstream tribalism in Pakistan (25 April)

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)


Angela Chukunzira, Organising under curfew: perspectives from Kenya (21 May)


María José Ventura Alfaro, Feminist solidarity networks have multiplied since the COVID-19 outbreak in Mexico (18 May)

John Foran, Eco Vista in the quintuple crisis (19 May)

Louisa Acciari, Care for those who care for you! Domestic workers’ struggles in Brazil in times of pandemic crisis (5 May)

John Krinsky and Hillary Caldwell, New York City’s movement networks: resilience, reworking, and resistance in a time of distancing and brutality [via OpenMovements] (28 April)

Neto Holanda e Valesca Lima, Movimentos e ações político-culturais do Brasil em tempos de pandemia do Covid-19 (30 de abril)

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]


Donatella della Porta, How progressive social movements can save democracy in pandemic times (19 May)

Johannah May Black, Sutapa Chattopadhyay, Riley Chisholm, Solidarity in times of social distancing: migrants, mutual aid, and COVID-19 (20 May)

Jackie Smith, Responding to coronavirus pandemic: human rights movement-building to transform global capitalism (15 May)

Susan Paulson, Giacomo D’Alisa, Federico Demaria, and Giorgos Kallis with Feminisms and Degrowth Alliance, From pandemic towards care-full degrowth (30 April)

Roger Spear, Gulcin Erdi, Marla A. Parker, Maria Anastasiadis, Innovations in citizen response to crises: volunteerism & social mobilization during COVID-19 (30 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]

Other people doing similar things:


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