Uncertain Perspectives and Changing Strategies towards a Pandemic. The Covid-19 Crisis in Tales of the Everyday in Africa


14:30 - 17:30


Unitobler, Lerchenweg 36, 3000 Bern, room F-022

Meeting place

Unitobler, Lerchenweg 36, 3000 Bern, room F-022

An event organised for the Swiss Society of African Studies by Tobias Haller, Didier Péclard, Chinwe Ifejika Speranza, Natalie Tarr


What is a pandemic in African contexts? How does the everyday of citizens look like, what are their ideas and how was their day-to-day influenced by measures imposed from above? Or how is it to live in a place where Corona is denied officially or does not seem to exist? How are the impacts of these measures perceived in the grey zone between discourses of epidemiological or political reason? What local and global disparities does the pandemic narrative hide or in contrary bring to light? What strategies did people adopt to maintain their livelihoods and wellbeing despite the uncertainties surrounding the pandemic and how effective were they? How do citizens react to and cope with the security response by public authorities?

The SSAS will organize a transdisciplinary event on these issues, providing a platform for diverse speakers presenting and discussing their perspectives on the insecurities, discourses and strategies linked to pandemics and especially the current Covid-19 context: A nurse in a large, state-run hospital in Burkina Faso or a researcher in an equally large university in Mozambique, NGO employees, a seamstress, workers at WHO, and taxi drivers tell their stories of how they have experienced and maneuvered Covid-19 at work and in their daily lives. They will present their views either in a series of short inputs in the first part or during a round table discussion at the end of the event. A detailed program will follow.

The event is planned in a hybrid format (both online and in person) to allow colleagues, partners, and stakeholders based in Africa to actively participate in the presentations, the round-table discussion and the plenary session.

  • Tobias Haller, Department of Anthropology, University of Bern. Contact: tobias.haller@anthro.unibe.ch
  • Didier Péclard, Global Studies Institute, University of Geneva. Contact: Didier.Peclard@unige.ch
  • Chinwe Ifejika Speranza, Department of Geography, University of Bern. Contact: chinwe.ifejika.speranza@giub.unibe.ch
  • Natalie Tarr, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss TPH. Contact: natalie.tarr@swisstph.ch

Program: Hybrid Workshop COVID-19 in Africa


Presentations (1 hr)

(1) Statements by local actors in 2 short videos (1 min each – 1 taxi driver, 1 nurse – in French)

(2) Eduard Gargallo, PostDoc, Centre of International Studies (ISCTE) at the University of Lisbon (Portugal) on COVID 19 Drylands Group (in person)

(3) Input by representatives of Swiss TPH (2 PhD students and/or researchers from the Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques, Abidjan; tbd) (online)

Coffee break (30 min)

Round table (45 min)

Moderation: Chinwe Ifejika Speranza

  • Boniface P. Kiteme, PhD, Director of the Center for Training and Integrated Research in ASAL Development (CETRAD), Kenya (online)
  • Carla Braga, Prof. of Anthropology at Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique (online)
  • Eduard Gargallo, WHO or researcher working on global health at GSI, Geneva (tbd; in person)

Plenary discussion (45 min)


The event is followed at 18:15 by the General Assembly of the Swiss Society for African Studies.

Venue: Unitobler, Lerchenweg 36, 3000 Bern, room F-022

Registration: Please register via the online form forms.gle/y9GD56mzauMnAmc68

Access: A valid COVID-certificate and proof of identity are required.

The regulations of the University of Bern www.unibe.ch/coronavirus and the Federal Office for Health www.bag.admin.ch/neues-coronavirus apply.

Mural raising awareness on Covid-19 prevention in Githogoro, Nairobi as part of UN-Habitat awareness raising project
Mural raising awareness on Covid-19 prevention in Githogoro, Nairobi as part of UN-Habitat awareness raising projectImage: picture: UN-Habitat/Julius Mwelu 2020


  • Africa
  • Main organiser
Languages: English, German, French